Fit and fresh before a match


Periodization is a commonly used term in sports. But what does periodization mean? And which principles can you, as a trainer or coach, integrate into your training schedule? In the coming weeks, we will answer these questions and we will discuss the different principles of periodization. We will start this series with a blog about periodization for one week.

What is periodization?

Periodization, also known as workload management, holds that ‘a schedule is systematically planned with the use of scientific knowledge to make sure that every phase of your training has the right training stimulus’. Even though this definition states the goal of periodization, it does not tell you how you need to do this. In the coming weeks, we will, therefore, highlight this aspect of periodization.

In contrast to most individual sports, where the focus is on that one absolute peak performance in the season (e.g. World championships or Olympic games), most team sports (e.g. soccer and field hockey) require a top performance every week. This means that during the week the focus is on working towards the game at the weekend. By varying the load throughout the week, you make sure that that there is a good balance between exercise and rest, which in turn leads to the optimal preparation of your players for the next match.

From Periodization to Training programs

Translating this to training programs: players need 2-3 days to recover from match load (1). However, in this period the next training sessions are already planned. Therefore, recovery sessions and/or less intense training sessions are the way to go! The day after the match, the training predominantly consists of running and stretching exercises, and it is of utmost importance to avoid intensive small-sided games (e.g. 3v3) on small field sizes (e.g. 15x10m). By avoiding these exercises, the players have the time to fully recover from match load.

After recovery, the focus shifts towards increasing fitness. It is therefore recommended to plan a conditional training session 2-3 days after the match, to make sure that ‘supercompensation’ can occur. This implies that the body has a higher potential performance capacity than it did prior to the training; in other words, players become fitter (2). In the next blog, we will, therefore, discuss how you can provide the right training stimulus for your team.

After the conditional session, the focus shifts back to recovery. By planning progressively less intensive training sessions towards the match, you make sure that your players are fit and fresh for the match. Hereby, it is especially important to limit the load on the muscles the day before the match. By reducing the duration of intensive small-sided games on small field sizes (3), you make sure that players don’t start the match with fatigued muscles.

If we look at what the periodization over the week looks like, we see an undulating pattern (see figure). Does your training week follow this periodization? If not, where could you make changes to optimally prepare your players for the match?

JOHAN’s tip of the week

Don’t make monitoring to hard on yourself, start with the monitoring of the most important variables: total distance, sprint distance, accelerations, and the way players perceive the training (rating of perceived exertion (RPE); see image).


  1. Silva, J.R., Rumpf, M.C., Hertzog, M., Castagna, C., Faraooq, A., Girard, O. & Hader, K. (2018) Acute and Residual soccer match-related fatigue: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med. 48(3): 539-583.
  2. Gambetta, A. (2006) Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. Human Kinetics.
  3. Gaudino, P., Alberti, G. & Iaia, M. (2014) Estimated metabolic and mechanical demands during different small-sided games in elite soccer players. Human Movement Science. 36: 123-133.

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