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Sports Med. 2003;33(15):1103-26.

A framework for understanding the training process leading to elite performance.

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Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 2N4.


The development of performance in competition is achieved through a training process that is designed to induce automation of motor skills and enhance structural and metabolic functions. Training also promotes self-confidence and a tolerance for higher training levels and competition. In general, there are two broad categories of athletes that perform at the highest level: (i) the genetically talented (the thoroughbred); and (ii) those with a highly developed work ethic (the workhorse) with a system of training guiding their effort. The dynamics of training involve the manipulation of the training load through the variables: intensity, duration and frequency. In addition, sport activities are a combination of strength, speed and endurance executed in a coordinated and efficient manner with the development of sport-specific characteristics. Short- and long-term planning (periodisation) requires alternating periods of training load with recovery for avoiding excessive fatigue that may lead to overtraining. Overtraining is long-lasting performance incompetence due to an imbalance of training load, competition, non-training stressors and recovery. Furthermore, annual plans are normally constructed in macro-, meso- and microcycles around the competitive phases with the objective of improving performance for a peak at a predetermined time. Finally, at competition time, optimal performance requires a healthy body, and integration of not only the physiological elements but also the psychological, technical and tactical components.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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