One of the most important, yet neglected, procedures in athletic development is filling out the Annual Plan.
This simple process should be a priority before your season even starts.
The Annual Plan is vital for one main reason:
It gets everyone on the same page.
It is imperative your Team (e.g. Coach, Parents, Physical Trainer, Physical Therapist and Mental Coach) all understand what everyone is doing and when they are doing it.
For example, there are times to Evaluate your physical attributes (e.g. before the season starts) and times when it isn't ideal (e.g. just before the Championships).
Another example is you will have some competitive events where you and your Coach might decide to change something (a 'Low Priority' event) and others where you definitely keep everything as it is (a 'High Priority' event).
Below are the steps required to maximise your Annual Plan and give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Before progressing, make sure you're clear on who your Team is (you might not have everyone in a team yet so don't worry):
- Head Coach (READ MORE: How to choose a Coach)
- Secondary Coach
- Physical Trainer (READ MORE: How to choose a Physical Trainer)
- Physical Therapist (READ MORE: How to choose a Physical Therapist)
- Mental Coach
Your team could also include your agent, sponsor, nutritionist or even an external 'advisor'.
STEP 1 - Fill out 'Week of'
Most calendars begin on January 1 but your Annual Plan is designed to start at any time.
Your first week might be the first week of preseason, or this week.
Typically it's best to fill in the date of the Monday of that week (however, in your sport it might be different) for the sake of clarity.
STEP 2 - Fill out your Schedule
In the 'Event' column' write down every event you're planning to compete in.
This should be done with your Coach and, if they're still involved in your athletic career, your Parents too.
STEP 3 - Assign the Priority
Not all competitive events are created equal.
In fact, some might be glorified training sessions. Others might be super important to be fresh and ready for.
Next to each event, assign an H(igh), M(edium) or L(ow) priority.
A guide to help you:
- H – No equipment, training or nutritional changes are made within 6 weeks of the event. Recovery begins 1 to 3 weeks out. This is the event you want to perform your best at!
- M – No equipment, training or nutritional changes are made in the week leading to the event. Recovery begins during that week.
- L – Equipment, training or nutritional changes may be made during the event. No recovery for the event; or intentionally increasing fatigue levels for the event. This is about getting your processes right!
There are a couple of guidelines to follow which might help you with assigning priority.
- No more than two H's in a calendar year. So you might choose National & World Champs; or Club and State Champs.
- Build the pyramid. You should probably have a lot of Ls, fewer Ms and only one or two Hs on your Annual Plan. If you don't you're probably going to burn out.
- The higher the level of competition doesn't automatically mean the priority is higher. There will be plenty of occasions where a competitor has assigned an H to the State Champs (because that is where they really want to do their best in) but only an M to National Champs (because they are just trying to gain some extra experience).
STEP 4- Weeks to Peak
Starting at your H event, write down how many weeks it is till that event. Start at 1 and the week before would be 2, the week before that would be 3, etc.
This will keep everyone's long term goals in check; and focused on the H event.
STEP 5 - M.E.R.S.T.
Once you've organised the events of your Annual Plan it's time to connect with other members of your Team.
Lock in MERST into your Annual Plan:
M(eetings) - Decide when you'll catch up with them to 1) reflect and 2) to plan.
Reflection (or Review) Meetings are good to answer the following questions:
- What did we do well?
- What can we improve?
It should never be to blame anyone.
Planning Meetings are good to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction.
Think about planning Meetings after a High Priority event, or after a distinct part of the season: e.g. at the end of the off-season, pre-season, or in-season.
E(valuations) - These can be important tests that give your Team vital information on how strong, fit or fast you are.
Schedule an Evaluation before every big block of training. And possibly another one at the end of the block of training.
R(ecovery) - Leading into H events, or for some time afterwards it is important to plan some down time to freshen up.
S(creenings) - Your Physical Trainer, Physical Therapist or Mental Coach might want to schedule time to see how your body or mind is going. Screenings might show up some red flags that, if addressed, might help prevent you getting injured.
These are best planned after a High Priority event or before a big block of training.
T(raining) - Perhaps the most important aspect to fill out: When you are training to improve?
Tips for your Annual Plan
- The further ahead the plan is, the less detailed it should probably be. The closer ahead you plan, the more detailed it should be.
- Your Annual Plan will probably change BUT it shouldn't change too frequently. I like to lock in the following 12 weeks and be more flexible after that.
- Make sure everyone in your Team has the latest copy of your Annual Plan at all times.
If you want a copy of the Annual Plan we use at PropelPerform fill out the form below and we'll it one to you asap!