Have you ever worked with an athlete who struggled to see long term progress in developing velocity? I know I have! If you have ever experienced this problem, this blog series is just for you.
The purpose of this blog is to educate coaches on implementing various programming strategies when athletes no longer respond positively to a training stimulus. We’ll be discussing a variety of possibilities that, if implemented, should be executed within a structured and well-rounded training program.
So, let’s get down to our first topic.
When programming for an athlete, it’s extremely common (for good reason) to plan using a seven-day microcycle. In this case, a microcycle is a unit of training time measured between the repetitions of a single type of training session. This includes all training sessions and off days within that time frame (1).
There are many benefits to utilizing a seven-day microcycle. Logistically, a seven-day plan makes the most sense, especially when working within the private sector, which involves working around various time constraints (training slots, days the facility is closed, etc.). This type of plan also allows the athlete to get into a routine of his own: “Oh, tomorrow is Monday. That means I have a Plyo Ball ® velocity training session to prepare for I should make sure I get plenty of sleep tonight!”
The Downsides of a Seven-Day Microcycle
While there are many benefits to this type of plan, no program is without its downsides. The primary disadvantage of utilizing a seven-day microcycle becomes clear when an athlete must progress certain aspects of the training. For example, let’s say Athlete X’s program has a microcycle structure that has him throwing a weighted ball from a mound for velocity once per week.
The coach believes the athlete is ready to progress his training by increasing the frequency (number of training sessions performed within a certain unit of time (1)) of velocity sessions within each microcycle. While many athletes may be able to handle the jump from one velocity session/wk to two velocity sessions/wk, some athletes will not (at least not initially).
So, what do you do?
The 2-1-2 Method
While there are many courses of action (that all have merit), a common solution that we have used in-gym with certain athletes is the 2-1-2 method. What’s that, you ask? Let me explain.
The 2-1-2 method is very simple. Instead of immediately progressing an athlete from one velocity workout to two velocity workouts per week, you alternate microcycles (weeks) of one velocity workout and two velocity workouts. This means that over the course of two weeks, athletes would have three velocity workouts instead of four.
So, what are the benefits of utilizing this programming strategy?
From a logistical perspective, it maintains the seven-day microcycle structure, which keeps things simple for everyone involved. From a training perspective, it gradually progresses the athlete’s program while allowing more recovery time between velocity workouts. This is especially critical when working with athletes who deal with a lot of stressors off the field, as collegiate athletes do.
The 2-1-2 method serves as the perfect transition or middle ground between one velocity workout and two velocity workouts per week.
So, how would this programming structure look?
The Programming Structure
Here’s an example of one of our affiliate athletes utilizing this programming strategy.
What made this athlete a good fit for the 2-1-2 method?
This athlete has trained with us for multiple offseasons and has adapted to our training structure. Furthermore, as an elite athlete (consistently throwing in the mid-90s off the mound), having him perform two velocity workouts every week took a heavy toll on his training economy. The 2-1-2 method creates the perfect middle ground. Furthermore, this strategy granted him more time to work his command a bit more (specifically his sweeping slider). Anecdotally, he has also reported that his body responds better to this velocity training structure.
As many of you reading this blog already know, especially if you have taken our Foundations of Pitching course, there are many ways to individualize athlete programming. For that reason, the 2-1-2 method is a useful strategy to keep in your back pocket. Is it necessary for everyone? No. But if implementing it helps just one athlete reach their goal, then it’s 100% worth having. Give it a try and let us know how it worked for you!
Have you tried this method or something similar? We’d love to hear about your experience. Thanks for reading!
By Stephen Hart
- Israetel, Mike, et al. Scientific Principles of Strength Training. Renaissance Periodization, 2018.