Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

What is Tactical Periodization? The Training Model Explained

Throughout the 21st century, Portuguese coaches have made a significant impact on football in the UK. From the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004 to modern-day coaches like Marco Silva at Fulham, a wide range of different ideas and tactical styles have been brought into the Premier League from Portugal. One philosophy that has had a profound effect is Tactical Periodization.

Tactical Periodization is a popular football training methodology used by top-level coaches. It is an intricate behind-the-scenes training strategy that can have a big impact on matchdays. In this article, we will explain exactly what Tactical Periodization means, explore the benefits associated with it, and delve into how it has taken hold within football.

What is Tactical Periodization?

Tactical Periodization is a training methodology that focuses on tactics as the core element of football. It proposes that everything that happens on the pitch is a result of tactics, and therefore a team’s training process should reflect that. By integrating ideas from various sciences and disciplines such as neuroscience, chaos theory, psychology, and more, Tactical Periodization seeks to understand football in a holistic way.

The methodology emphasizes getting players to train in a way that mirrors the intensity and pressure of an in-game situation. This typically involves training in an 11v11 format to recreate realistic match scenarios. The original goal of Tactical Periodization was to ensure realistic match situations were incorporated throughout the training schedule. This remains a key aspect of the methodology today.

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The Origins of Tactical Periodization

Tactical Periodization was developed by Portuguese sports scientist Vitor Frade. Working at FC Porto during the managerial tenure of Bobby Robson, Frade’s ideas quickly gained influence and began shaping the training methods of innovative footballing minds. His blend of systems theory, sports science, and psychology created a training session model that has had a profound impact on European football.

Top coaches such as Jose Mourinho have played a significant role in spreading and advocating for Tactical Periodization. Carlos Carvalhal, a Portuguese coach who has managed numerous clubs worldwide, refers to Frade as the brain behind it all. Carvalhal explains that Tactical Periodization views the tactical aspect as the key driver of everything in football training.

How is Tactical Periodization Implemented at Professional Clubs?

Tactical Periodization involves building weekly cycles around each matchday. After a game, there is usually a rest day followed by a sequence of training days that strategically build up towards the next match. However, the implementation of Tactical Periodization goes beyond this simple framework.

The first step in implementing Tactical Periodization is defining the team’s game model. This includes the formation, individual player roles, and specific technical and tactical principles that underpin how the team plays. From there, training is designed to focus on the key moments of the game: Attacking Organization, Defensive Transition, Defensive Organization, and Attacking Transition.

Different training methods are employed to address these different moments. Individual work, small group work, inter-sectorial work, and whole-team work are utilized to train players in various match situations. The weekly training sessions gradually increase in intensity, reflecting the learning plan known as the “Morphocycle.”

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The Benefits of Tactical Periodization

Tactical Periodization allows players to respond effectively to match situations based on clear principles that have been drilled into them over time. By training in a way that closely mirrors real game scenarios, players become better prepared for matchday situations. The integration of all aspects of training within a tactical framework has proven to be highly impactful.

Tactical Periodization challenges the notion that early pre-season training should solely focus on brutal fitness work. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of working with the ball and practicing skills within a match situation. This practical and realistic approach has been successful for coaches like Jose Mourinho, who have achieved remarkable results by embracing the chaos of football.


Q: How does Tactical Periodization differ from traditional training methods?

A: Tactical Periodization differs from traditional training methods by placing tactics at the center of the training process. It integrates various sciences and disciplines to better understand football as a whole, viewing technical, physical, and psychological aspects as interconnected within the tactical strategy.

Q: Which coaches have adopted Tactical Periodization?

A: Several top-level coaches, including Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Brendan Rodgers, have adopted Tactical Periodization. These coaches have embraced the methodology and successfully implemented it within their respective teams.

Q: How does Tactical Periodization benefit players?

A: Tactical Periodization benefits players by preparing them for match situations through realistic training. By integrating all aspects of training within a tactical framework, players can respond effectively to different moments of the game. This methodology also emphasizes working with the ball, resulting in improved technical skills.

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Tactical Periodization is a training methodology that places tactics at the core of football training. Developed by Portuguese sports scientist Vitor Frade, it has had a significant influence on the beautiful game. Tactical Periodization focuses on training players in a way that mirrors real match situations, integrating various disciplines to understand football holistically. By implementing Tactical Periodization, coaches can prepare their players effectively and improve their performance on matchdays. Embracing the chaos of football and training with a tactical framework has proven to be a successful strategy for numerous top-level coaches. To learn more about fascinating football philosophies, check out our article on Total Football.