Jan 29, 2015
Come Sunday

By Vern Gambetta

The key to successful coaching is planning. The more detailed the planning the better. For me, Sunday has always been the day for planning. It has been this way for 44 years, it has almost become a ritual, and it is certainly part of my Sunday routine.

During the week, I keep detailed notes on the workouts–what worked and what did not work. Did training go according to plan? What adjustments were needed? I use a long-term plan as a guide, with each microcycle having specific goals and objectives. And if there is a competition that week or in the subsequent week, I obviously factor that into the planning.

When Sunday comes, I usually start the day by going to church then try to get a workout in. As I’ve gotten older, that usually consists of a swim or a longer bike ride or walk. Essentially, this workout period is my time to think and start planning. It is the time when next week’s plan begins to take shape.

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As I start this planning, I try to think in broad concepts rather than specific loads, sets, and reps. Then I usually sit down with a blank piece of paper and jot down exercises, points of emphasis, drills, and anything else that I want to include that week.

Earlier in my coaching career, I started this process by moving directly into workout construction, and I seldom deleted anything that I had written down. After a few years of that, however, I found that I was including too much in the workouts, which limited their effectiveness.

So now after writing everything down, I usually take a break and come back to my notes later to cut out everything but the absolute “need to do” exercises and drills. No fluff! Then I plan the workouts for that week.

For this, I write the basics for each workout but won’t yet include the details such as sets, reps, and intensities. I wait until right before each workout to add those details.

Sometimes my Sunday planning process takes 30 minutes and other times it takes two hours depending on the time of the training year, athlete needs, and their long-term plan. For example, this week is a transition week for my beach volleyball players. There will only be two workouts aside from their skill sessions.

They have come off a block of power training and heavy skill work and will be going into a power endurance phase next week that switches back to four sessions. Last Sunday, it took just 30 minutes to plan the two sessions. Because it is a transition that we have used over the past four years, I simply referred back to what we did those years while factoring in the athletes’ increased training ages.

I hope this gives you some insights that will help you in your planning. But please note, there is no specific formula. You must do what works for you.

Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning. Vern also maintains his own blog.

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