CASCADE TRANSITION: Time to Recharge Your Season
Tips from Sergei Beliaev for Starting Your Second Cascade Phase Just Right
What Is Cascade Season Planning?
Our Cascade Planning technique is a practical application of Parametric Training theory. It prepares athletes better for the kind of “long” season that is typical in collegiate competition, and also provides an effective solution to situations where we need to address a specific goal during a particular training phase in the overall season plan.
Since we introduced this option in 2007, over 80% of our collegiate swimming coaches have switched to a Cascade Season Plan, and have used one ever since they made the change. And for good reason.
Cascade planning opens the door to additional opportunities in athletic development, and performance reserves that were not available before it. In practical terms coaches report that using cascade planning has resulted in solid mid-season quality swims with additional opportunities for improving results even more by the end of the full season.
If your athletes need to perform at their peak at the end of the first cascade, however, cascade planning may not be appropriate. But when used, it allows more time to build aerobic capacity and provides a better transition to the “completion phase” (where you need stable and solid performances) towards the end of your collegiate season.
How Does It Work?
Cascade planning takes advantage of the key and most profound parametric training effect… the character of “adaptation reaction” to a specific training strategy. This is accomplished in practice by combining two separate season plans, each of which accomplishes its own particular task.
Visually, a cascade training plan may look something like this.
Pic 1. Cascade Season, 27 weeks.
As you can see cascade planning lets you apply completely different training strategies in each phase. But this of course depends on your goals, and the specific development needs of your athletes. There are other advantages to this season construction as well, which we will see in a moment.
TIPS for switching between cascade phases
Once you pass your mid-season meet (the point for which you maximized training volume using accumulation strategy), you need to re-set your season dates for each of your athletes in Profile 1. Changing dates alone, however, is not enough. You will also need to re-set season volumes, and apply them to each new week of training (select the “current” button).
The following steps and procedures below illustrate exactly what you need to do to reset the season for a second cascade.
Step One: Reset Season Dates
a. In the Coach Administration Page select “model athlete” and open his Profile I page using the “Edit Personal Data” button. Go directly to Part 3, Season Planning.
b. Now reset your season start date. To do this… select a date that is 3-4 weeks BEFORE the actual new phase starting date. Usually, we want to eliminate the “pull in” phase and start the next training phase with an accumulation phase (the point where zone II is introduced) like this…
c. Set the “Beginning Intensity” to 95%. This is necessary because you will need to maintain a higher level of relative intensity in your second phase in order to swim faster by the end of the season.
d. Set your season target date to the date of your conference meet. NOTE: You have some choices here. If you want to allow for an “adaptation stabilization effect” (first suggested by Ernie Maglischo, and later adopted by Matt Kredich in his 3S season plans), consider selecting a date 5-7 days prior to your actual meet date. Doing this gives you additional time to fine-tune your athletes’ preparedness just before the main meet. There are of course some limitations to this approach. If you have a short season for instance, additional training time can be more important than time spent on adaptation stabilization. Ideally, you want to plan your second phase in such way that it will offer at least 4 weeks (5 is better) for the “realization” phase. So with a shorter season, the role of a stabilization week diminishes because of the shorter realization phase.
Step Two: Adjust Season Planner
Once you’ve changed Profile I, you want to click on “Submit” and click through all the profiles until you return to the Training Control Center. Once there, select Season Planner (or better Advanced Season Planner) and open the page. Here you need to perform two more actions.
1. In the line headed “Current Phase Volume” compare the volume you have chosen to our suggested volume. If different (and they nearly always will be since your season dates have changed), replace the value to suggested volume for this phase. In most cases you will be dealing with only one phase at a time and therefore you can use either window to make adjustments.
2. Now select the training strategy you want for the current phase. One of the most desirable features of the cascade planning technique is that it allows you to choose different training strategies in each phase. And the second phase cascade strategy can be more aggressive than the first, especially when preparing for 100 and 200 m/yd distances.
3. Make any other minor adjustments to your training strategy now as well. The focus here is the time lag (in number of weeks) between achieving maximum loads in each zone and your target performance date. This lag will differ from athlete to athlete and will depend on energy zone and his specialization.
4. Submit your changes, and return to the Training Control Center.
Step 3: Reset System output to default (latest) settings
It is important to remember that 3S system saving the training days you visited, and that data is what you will see the next time you return to that day. This is done to save system resources, but also to save any changes you might have made to a specific training day in individual training control center (this feature does not apply to Workouts for Groups section where you import data from individual training center and therefore it can be also viewed a de-facto training log).
Of course once you re-set your season you expect to see the updated workouts and targets. But to be certain that you are actually accessing the most recent data, please be sure to use the “Reset To Defaults” button in your Training Control Center. NOTE: You must repeat this operation every week.
Although this may look complicated, once you’ve been through the process and understand what you’re doing, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to reset an individual account.
TIP: You can skip the first step completely with the rest of the group by using the button from your Coach Administration page. Be advised, however, you will still need to visit and adjust individual season planning options, since this feature will coordinate the calendar, but will leave individual season volume targets intact.
As always, we are ready to step in and assist you in making the proper settings for your account. We can also suggest unique training designs specific to your situation. All you need to do is ask.
We wish you the very best this season, and expect it to be another successful one for you.
President of Super Sport Systems
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