Common Fallacies in Long Term Programming

1. Ignoring the training stress balance (TSB)

The training stress balance can be described as the acute training load measured in relation to the chronic training load. In other words, it’s a way to determine if your current plan is too stressful for your athletes to handle relative to what they have been doing the past few weeks. If they are physically unprepared to handle the new stress, it will result in higher risk for injury. The best way to develop an effective long-term program is to consider periods of time when practice or game volume is too high (in season) OR when the physical preparation level of your athlete(s) are too low (coming off a long period of inactivity). When practice or game volume is high, a training programs volume should be low. The same rule applies when an athlete is coming off a long break of little to no activity and is not ready for a sharp increase in training volume and stress.

2. Too much movement variation

It is important to remember that as strength coaches, we are teaching skills that are foreign to most athletes. So how does an athlete get good at anything if the program is always changing? A movement should only be varied or progressed when there has been mastery of the old movement. For example, if an athlete has finally learned to hold an upright torso with a full range of motion during a front squat at 100% body weight, they are likely ready to begin back squatting. Sadly, coaches add variation in hopes of entertaining the athlete or entertaining themselves. As a coach or athlete, if you think a program is too “boring” and requires constant variation, you picked the wrong profession.

3. Absence of regular psychological assessments

Psychological assessments are often overlooked when developing long term programming. One of the easiest and most practical assessments is having the athlete grade his or her “in session” performance. Grading helps determine how confident the athlete is with the training process. Obviously, the goal is to have an athlete see a consistent increase in how they grade themselves. This is a direct reflection of confidence. The more confident you are, the better you perform!