Having a great fitting plan is essential for success, no question, but it´s not only about doing the plan but also how the plan is completed.
I know it sounds like it is the same - it can be, but it also can not.
I scratched the topic from the view of training and logging in this article. Now, I go a step back and look at the things happening before a session, the planning.
There is a lot of effort that goes into a training plan. It starts with the big picture, like a year or even four-year plan, breaks down into periods, or training blocks, from there into weeks and into training sessions done every day.
Let´s now imagine you have this perfect training plan in front of you, and every day before you go to training, you check out what to do. There already can be the first problem, especially when training is not done all the time at the same facility and with the same equipment. If something unexpected shows up, it might get stressful, which can already impact the session itself. You may run late, forget something, or be in shock about what actually stands on the plan. Maybe the shock would not have been there if you had already known that a very easy day was following.
I know, especially at a younger age, athletes may not see the plan far out, but there is a plan. If an athlete feels better knowing what's happening in a broad picture, I am sure the coach is happy to share the focus for the next sessions to come.
For now, let`s assume the athlete has access to at least the weekly plan. In this case, I recommend checking the whole flow of it when getting it. I don´t ask for memorization, just to read through it, that the surprises I described above are not happening. It´s not just about knowing what is on the plan, it´s also about learning and understanding patterns in a plan. A plan also includes acronyms, which can be confusing, but only if not knowing their meanings.
Now you have the plan, you know what's going on, you figured out the flow of it, and you are ready to roll. There is one more thing to read between the lines. What's the focus of the session? Because of what you are focusing on, you get the result. If you don´t have a focus, you may still get a result, but not at the quality of someone who had this focus.
And how you execute the plan makes the difference in what this perfect plan can do for you.
That´s one reason why athletes of the same training group with the same training plan can have totally different results competing. There are more reasons than that, but that's one possible answer to the question of why a teammate has done quite differently.
How it is good to have a high level of technical skills, as described in “When You Think You Got This,” it´s also very good to have a great training plan. But if for some reason, those skills fall short and get covered with other strong elements, also a not-as-ideal training plan can be done with great effort.
I personally think it is much easier to create a good plan than to master a difficult skill, but I do like the saying I got from one of my coaches:
Better to do a bad plan well than a good plan done bad.
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