Sports Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 15, pp 1103–1126 | Cite as

A Framework for Understanding the Training Process Leading to Elite Performance

  • David J. SmithEmail author
Review Article


The development of performance in competition is achieved through a training process that is designed to induce automation of motor skills and enhance structural and metabolic functions. Training also promotes self-confidence and a tolerance for higher training levels and competition. In general, there are two broad categories of athletes that perform at the highest level: (i) the genetically talented (the thoroughbred); and (ii) those with a highly developed work ethic (the workhorse) with a system of training guiding their effort. The dynamics of training involve the manipulation of the training load through the variables: intensity, duration and frequency. In addition, sport activities are a combination of strength, speed and endurance executed in a coordinated and efficient manner with the development of sport-specific characteristics. Short- and long-term planning (periodisation) requires alternating periods of training load with recovery for avoiding excessive fatigue that may lead to overtraining. Overtraining is long-lasting performance incompetence due to an imbalance of training load, competition, non-training stressors and recovery. Furthermore, annual plans are normally constructed in macro-, meso- and microcycles around the competitive phases with the objective of improving performance for a peak at a predetermined time. Finally, at competition time, optimal performance requires a healthy body, and integration of not only the physiological elements but also the psychological, technical and tactical components.


Heart Rate Variability Macrocycle Endurance Athlete Athletic Performance Training Load 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this manuscript. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of KinesiologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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