As a coach for many years I bought into the concept that I had to re-establish the base, in essence starting over each year. Slowly I came to the realization that I was stifling the athlete’s development; we were talking two steps forward and one step back. You don’t have to start over at the beginning of each training year because training accumulates from year to year. Use the metaphor of remodeling your house and possibly adding another level. You would not think of tearing down the foundation and starting over unless there was an overriding structural weakness. Instead you would strengthen and reinforce the existing foundation.
Over the past several years I have re-evaluated the whole approach. You end the season in peak competitive shape. Then conventional wisdom told us to take two to four weeks off to rest and recover. This is where the problem starts. Even though the emphasis should be on “active rest” the athlete is deconditioning, which warrants starting back with base work at the end of this rest period. Now instead of transition period I have a period I call Foundation Refresh – This is a period of refinement, correction and learning than can last up to four weeks. The goal here is to take advantage of peak fitness and use this time to correct technical flaws and rehearse and practice new techniques or training methods that will be introduced in the next training year. The number of training days is reduced, but still enough to stabilize a good level of fitness to insure that when we start the full foundation phase the fitness is there to be able to build upon what was done the previous year. The foundation phase follows with the goal to reinforce the foundation and start training at a higher level than we did the previous training year. Lest we forget that training is cumulative. We should always build upon what we have done before.