Individualising training in a team setting

One of the main challenges with periodisation and planning in team sports is planning for an entire squad. One of the key principles of training is individualisation. Players should not all be treated the same when it comes to training,  some will need to focus on certain weaknesses that others do not have, some may have a more advanced training age and some may not respond and adapt to the training at the same rate. Even if the coach designs individual training plans for every player, the actual training sessions can become extremely hard to manage as players are all trying to follow different plans at the same time in the same space. It is also extremely time consuming for a coach to write 30 different training plans and this may not be feasible. It is advisable for a coach to try and bring in elements of individualisation to a training programme where they can and there are some strategies which can be used to help.

The coach can utilise a training plan built on a progression/regression model. This allows development of a training plan for the squad and while all players perform the same movement patterns in a session, the exercise selection will be altered to account for their lifting ability and training age. An example of this exercise progression/regression model is highlighted in Table 7.

Table 7. Exercise progression/regression model

Further Regression Regression Exercise Progression Further Progression
Zombie Squat Counterbalance Squat Goblet Squat 2 Kettlebell Squat Barbell Front Squat
Elevated Bar Press Up Reduced Depth Press Up Press Up Press Up with Shoulder Taps Feet Elevated Press Up
Glute Bridge Glute Bridge with Miniband Barbell Glute Bridge Single Leg Barbell Glute Bridge Hip Thrust


Repetitions and load could also be altered to progress or regress a player whilst the general layout of the training plan stays the same. For example, a player with a higher training age could perform heavy barbell back squats for 5 repetitions whilst a player with a low training age performs 10 repetitions of a counterbalance squat to achieve the same movement pattern.   

Players may also be grouped in several different ways and separate training groups could be created. This allows training programmes to be designed for each training group accounting for their needs. The training may not be as individualised as it could possibly be but at least the coach has attempted to focus on what type of training may be best in general for this group. For example, if after testing and screening the coach has identified a group of players who are not big enough to compete physically in their position, these players could be grouped together into a hypertrophy training group. The coach should always attempt to include elements of individualisation wherever possible within a programme.