In this article I would like to discuss about how I started planning the training program for my Taekwondo fighters and the things I had to take into consideration first.
When I am working with elite Taekwondo fighters, one of the most difficult things in my work is how to plan my fighter’s training program.
Normally I start with an 8 year plan, meaning 2 Olympic cycles, 4 + 4 years. Then I split the 4 years into 2 year periods, 1 year periods and finally monthly programs.
At the same time I am working with the following questions in my mind:
What is the overall objective?
What is our goal? Is it the World Champion medal or just to achieve National level? Or are we trying to go as high as possible. Perhaps the Olympic gold medal? At this point I like to know very clearly what the ultimate goal is, because if it is to become an Olympic champion then we know that this athlete at some point will have to train as a professional.
What is a realistic goal for an athlete?
The next question is: is this realistic for an athlete? According to the fighter’s background, is this possible? What is the fighter’s age? Are we too late with our training? How is his or her body type, have there been any serious injuries that will affect the future training?
What are the specific circumstances for training and competitions?
How will we train and who will coach him or her? Can we train twice a day if needed? How can we do our strength or speed training? Does the athlete have a training room at home? Where do we get money for the competitions and training? How do we handle the “recovery training”, where can we get help with the occasional medical problems, massages and recovery treatments? How do we do the performance tests?
How much can the Taekwondo school or the national federation help financially.
Most likely, we can’t rely on any funding from the national federation because in our country Taekwondo is quite a ‘small’ sport. Then we pretty much have two choices: Taekwondo school and parents. If the school could provide the financial support that would be the best solution, but realistically that is very difficult to achieve in today’s environment unless we do something totally different.
So far, with all my athletes, parent involvement has been critically important. Without the parent’s financial support it would be impossible to achieve results.
What is the future of the athlete?
We are now coming to one of the most important stages of planning. What will the athlete’s future be? What kind of education is he or she looking to get? How can we combine school and training? In my experience the combination of Taekwondo training and studying is the best possible solution. I would even go so far as to demand that my fighters get university level education. My reasoning is quite simple. In our countries (Sweden & Finland) education is pretty much free and you can also plan your studying schedule quite freely.
I am a firm believer that you will need something else along your Taekwondo training. That’s why getting a university degree is perfect for an athlete. They will get their mind out of their training and education is also a safeguard for their future. Athletes will also need something else in their lives; otherwise training will be too much to handle in the future.
As a coach you have to do a lot of preparations before you can start making training programs. You have to understand that you must become a coach, a manager, a friend and mentor. A relationship between you and the athletes is very important, it might even last a lifetime and you always have to be there for your fighters. It’s not enough just to teach classes. You have to be involved in all the aspects of his/her life. Everything counts: education, training, parents and training partners. Where do we get funding to cover the expenses?
As you can see, you as the coach will have a lot of things to do, but the journey alongside your athletes will be fun and rewarding.
Markku Parviainen / Taekwondo coach