Jim emphasizes periodization more than any other judo coach I know. Maybe it's because he's always liked power lifting, where periodization is a very familiar concept.
Maybe this is because many coaches are uncomfortable when their athletes have down periods or are "in a slump". That's what we're supposed to be trying to prevent, right?
Or maybe it is that judo coaches are often not familiar with the concept of periodization. So many of the judo coaches I know teach exactly as how they were taught. In fact, when I have made suggestions to coaches I've often been told,
"This is the way we were taught."
Well, I don't know about you, but the word "periodization" never came up when I was learning judo as a young person. The closest I ever came to it was some coaches (not all), who would encourage their players to cut back the week or so before a tournament. On the other hand, there were coaches who pushed their players as hard as they could right up to the day before they fought, to make them tough.
This article, from Medicine and Sport Science, summed up the reasoning behind periodization well. They noted that trainers working with some of the greatest athletes in the world found that no matter how fit an athlete was they couldn't just train harder and harder forever.
There are two main points you should know about periodization.
- Periodization is breaking down your training into segments.
- Periodization accepts the fact that you will have peaks and valleys in your performance and makes a deliberate effort to time those peaks to coincide with the one or two most important competitions each year.
Pre-season you increase your workload to improve cardiovascular condition. Your weight workouts should include more repetitions. Your running should include more long distance - not more than one or two miles, though. You're not training for a marathon. Judo matches are under eight minutes at the most. This is when your judo training should include more sessions when you stay out and do randori for several rounds in a row.
In-season you try to maintain as much of the strength and power you have gained. Now you are focused on your upcoming competition. If you have done the first two segments correctly, you are at your peak for both physical strength and endurance. So, the amount of weight you lifted, the times for your sprints, the number of throws or turnovers in a minute kept going up in the first segment. In the second segment, your number of repetitions, number of sprints went up. Or maybe you did the same number of sprints but after having run a mile or two first. The number of rounds of randori you did a night increased. In the third segment, you stay at those levels.
The week or so before your competition, you cut back. You let every little minor injury heal up. You get your weight down. And here a funny thing happens. For months, your body has been on an upward trend. You have gotten used to that level of exercise. By the day of the tournament, you have all of that pent-up energy and should be ready to perform at your peak.
Oh, and did I mention that after that you'll probably suck for a while? That's the valley part of it. The worst is when you do phenomenally great at a tournament, win some major event and come back home where everyone wants to work out with you because you have just won the gold medal in the Tournament of Greatness - and you suck and the eight-year-old orange belts in your club are foot-sweeping you.
Seriously, though, get over it. I mean, who would you rather beat, that person in the finals or the eight-year-olds ? Besides if it really bothers you that much, you can always lie and say they didn't foot sweep you. It's not like anyone is going to believe you over them, because hey, they're like, eight.