Integrated High performance, Science & Research

The 11 Evidence-Informed and Inferred Principles of Microcycle Periodization in Elite Football

23 February 2024



The 11 Evidence-Informed and Inferred Principles of Microcycle Periodization in Elite Football

Buchheit M, Douchet T, Settembre M, McHugh D, Hader K, & Verheijen R. The 11 Evidence-Informed and Inferred Principles of Microcycle Periodization in Elite Football. Sport Performance & Science Reports, 2024, Feb, #218, V1

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Our review adopts a structured approach, inspired by the seminal work of Raymond Verheijen (2014), to present key evidence-informed principles of microcycle periodization in elite football. While not directly adopting Verheijen’s principles, this method echoes his approach by establishing a set of clear, objective guidelines as a foundation amidst the inherent unpredictability of competition and the multifaceted nature of football. This structured analysis allows for a comprehensive, empirical understanding of each principle before integrating them into a cohesive strategy, aiming to optimize performance and manage injuries effectively.


Key findings and recommendations

Integration of the 11 Key Programming Principles

The seamless integration of these principles is paramount, as it cannot be merely a copy/paste or a juxtaposition of principles alongside each other. While the individual studies examined in this review provide valuable insights for guiding practice and forming key programming principles, the integration of these principles requires particular attention from practitioners to ensure smooth implementation and maximize their effectiveness. It’s essential to recognize that these principles are additive and not simply applied one after another; adjustments must be made to integrate them seamlessly. For instance, if implementing the principle of speed exposure on D-2, it must consider factors such as strength training on D-4 and high-speed running load in preceding or subsequent days. This underscores the importance of tailored approaches, where strength training in the gym aligns with pitch-based work, ensuring a cohesive and optimized training regimen.” Finally, while topics like activation gym work, nutrition, and recovery are undoubtedly important, their omission from this review was primarily due to the lack of strong supporting evidence addressing their integration into weekly periodization. However, their significance warrants further research to explore their role in optimizing training strategies.

  • Principle 1 – Overall Load Dynamics and Content Periodization: Highlights a structured three-phase microcycle: recovery, acquisition, and tapering, tailored to match schedules (i.e., microcycle length).
  • Principle 2 – Mapping Rest Days: Emphasizes strategic rest day placement, particularly effective at D+2, to reduce injury rates within varying microcycle lengths (and likely as well allowing substitutes to train on D+1, as per principle 10).
  • Principle 3 – Managing Post-Match Recovery and Compensation: Suggests post-match (MD+1) upper body training is compatible with recovery, with benefits potentially varying among players, and stresses the need for high-intensity and speed training compensation (at MD+1 as per principle 2) to maintain substitutes’ performance and reduce injury risks.
  • Principle 4 – Weekly Training Loads and High-Speed Running Management: Identifies optimal training load ranges (60-90% of match load, reached via football training) for balancing performance enhancement and injury mitigation.
  • Principle 5 – Optimal Training Sequencing: Demonstrates that modified microcycle planning and session sequencing (e.g., switching typical MD-3 vs MD-2) could improve training impact without affecting match-day readiness.
  • Principle 6 – Maximum Speed Exposures: Highlights the importance of near-to-maximal speed training (>95%) at MD-2, which may be associated with reduced injury rates.
  • Principle 7 – Mastering Strength Training: Focuses on early scheduling of eccentric training, effective micro-dosing, and progressive intensity for optimal integration.
  • Principle 8 – Strategic Tapering Leading to the Match: Advocates a balance between moderate and light loads pre-match with an increased focus on recovery for optimal performance and injury prevention.
  • Principle 9 – Match Day Morning Priming Sessions: Shows MD morning priming sessions can enhance physical potential without affecting technical skills.
  • Principle 10 (Inferred) – Running as an Intrinsic Aspect of Football: Asserts that running is as fundamental to the game as breathing is to life, underscoring the importance of viewing running metrics (i.e., Principles 4 & 6) not as separate components but as instrumental tools to design football training purposefully.
  • Principle 11 (Inferred) – Embracing the Chaos: Introduces the concept of navigating unpredictability in elite football, emphasizing the importance of adaptability to external factors and the need for a structured, objective framework to effectively manage chaos beyond the pitch (i.e., Principles 1-10).
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