“Periodization” is probably best defined as the systematic and strategic ordering of training phases to challenge the body and build towards a specific competition.
Athletes should be very familiar with the practical look of a periodized training program, if not the technical jargon that goes with it. There’s a rhythm, an ebb and flow, to the days, weeks, and months that make up that kind of training program as an athlete approaches the competitive phase of their calendar.
Listening to New York Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo speak about the structure of training camp, and the telltale signs of a carefully periodized program emerge — even just three days in.
“We build them up a little bit,” McAdoo said, with regards to the rising intensity of practice over the first three days of camp. “Did some competition in there, some more conditioning, an opportunity period in there with the young players, and an opportunity period for the veterans to work some different skills that they don’t normally get to work. Then we’ll bring them down with a day off tomorrow, and then start the process with pads.”
After six weeks of vacation, or ‘prepcation’ in McAdoo’s parlance, it might seem odd to some that the Giants’ players are getting a day off after just three days of work, the first of which was just a jog-through. But there is a plan at work, and it isn’t just coach being nice to keep players on his side.
“Just taking care of their body,” McAdoo said, when asked of the benefit of a day off. “Watching what they eat, staying hydrated, staying on top of the little things with treatment, and getting some sleep.”
These four days, the opening jog-through, the two days of ramping-up practices followed by the day off are the first micro-cycle of the Giants’ camp.
The next cycle starts on Tuesday, when the shells (“Just the uppers,” McAdoo confirmed) go on. And the head coach expects the intensity to rise yet again, saying:
“We’re going to come back, when you put the pads on, the intensity goes to a different level. So we’re going to be smart about how long we’re on the field – that’s the first thing. We’re going to make sure we teach the fundamentals the right way before we just roll the ball out there and start hitting on each other. So it’s about the fundamental part of the game, and learning how to fit your pads in because you play so much without your pads in the game today.”
Being smart is another theme with how McAdoo conducts practice. Fans were concerned for tight end Rhett Ellison when he was held out of spring practices with a calf injury, but he has been a full go thus far in camp.
On the first two days of camp, Damon Harrison was limited due to leg soreness. On the third day Shane Vereen was limited, and McAdoo confirmed that soreness (lower body) was again the culprit, saying, “He was sore and we were smart and held him. He could’ve gone back in, but we decided to hold him.”
We will likely see more signs of a plan as camp progresses, and it will be interesting to see if McAdoo reveals any more of his philosophy in speaking to the media.
McAdoo also spoke about something he called an “Opportunity Period” during practice. He said, “It’s to get young players opportunities to compete and show what they can do.” He also added, “We film everything we do. Traveling from one period to the other gets evaluated, everything that you do gets looked at and evaluated and taken into consideration.”
McAdoo is optimistic about his rookies, but also staying realistic about where they are in the process, saying “I see guys out there competing without pads on. It’s a good start, but again, we have to develop the fundamentals with the pads on starting on Tuesday.”
The goal, as McAdoo said, was to develop the rookies.
“We want to develop them,” he said. “Again, it’s not all the rookies. Everybody’s different, each player is different. You have to treat them all that way and bring them along as fast as you can bring them, but you have to tailor some things to each guy. Almost like an IEP sort of, to try to bring them up to speed as fast as they can come.”
*note: I believe “IEP” is shorthand for “Individualized Educational Program”
An Improved Tight End Position
“He’s [Will Tye] a guy that’s competing for a job,” McAdoo said. “Our tight end group has vastly improved, it’s a very competitive group and I can’t wait to see them play in the preseason.”
On how Mark Herzlich is handling switching between tight end (where he caught a pass from Davis Webb) and linebacker:
“Very well, McAdoo said. “He’s a pro. I’ve been around a guy like him, a guy like Spencer Havner in Green Bay when I was there, he played on both sides in multiple positions on both sides. So those guys, guys like Mark, are truly unique and special that they can flip the jersey and flip the switch and go to the other side of the ball and be a contributor there. He made a couple nice plays for us.”