There are people who have had the fortune to be able to learn from some of the best minds in the business. I happen to be one of them, having interned for Joe Kenn in 2003 at Arizona State University. I know that I’m fortunate, and I’ve worked hard to place myself in that situation back then. I remember sitting there as Coach Kenn pontificated during staff educational sessions.

Through the medium of video, you, too, can have the experience of sitting in that conference room in Tempe, Arizona, listening to the Big House himself give a sermon. In Practical Periodization, a set of five DVDs, Kenn teaches viewers how to plan, as many have never received this sort of education.

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There are tons of books on periodization, and at the time of recording, Coach Kenn had probably read all of them. He talks about the vernacular of the different texts and explains how he has applied their knowledge. Many people can read a book, but they can only regurgitate what they read. There is a lack of application. Information just taken in is knowledge, but the understanding and ability to apply the information is wisdom. By watching, you gain his wisdom.

I often talk about my internship experience with him and one story in particular. He asked me a question, and like the cocky intern I was, I responded, “Kurz said in The Science of Sport Training that—“ and he cut me off and said, “I don’t care what Kurz said. I have read it, and anyone is capable of reading. I care what you think.” This DVD set is what he thinks as a result of his acquisition of knowledge over the years.

He starts from the blank annual plan template, or macrocycle. He discusses the quadrennial as well, which is a major component of his college career. When confronted with a blank canvas of the 52 weeks of a macrocycle in a Microsoft Excel template, some people suffer paralysis by analysis.

Kenn demonstrates a step-by-step process in that lets you tackle fear and paralysis one part at a time. For example, he starts by including the absolutes — when the games are and when practices start, which will delineate between pre-season and in-season. Next, throw in academic- and NCAA-mandated off-periods, and continue to build from there.

Next, he goes over the mesocycle construction and addresses an area that has been of debate and concern on social media: the deload, which is simply a decrease in loading volume and/or intensity.

As the first week of a mesocycle is the base week that everything that the entire mesocycle is based on, it will typically be lower than the peak of the previous mesocycle. This is, in essence, a deload. He goes on to talk about multiple different aspects of mesocycle construction with trait emphasis, different numbers of weeks, among other things.

Finally, he goes over the microcycle construction as he views it through the lens of the tier system. He walks you through the progression of the tier system and how he breaks down his various goals for training. While it’s not the main focus for the entire DVD set, this is a nice introduction into the what, why, and how of the tier system. People who don’t utilize the tier system still will gain an incredible amount of information that they can use for the development of their next program.

There were a lot of things in this DVD set that I had forgotten about from my time working with Kenn, or that I hadn’t thought of in the way it’s presented here. His reading into the literature and leaning on experts, such as Brandon Marcelo and Matt Rhea, help him hone his methods and allow him to gain vantage points few others have. He also interacts with the audience, which provokes thoughts from him. These interactions show how he’s is always open to new ideas.

There are a lot of coaches out there, but few have his qualifications. In fact, he is the only person to have won both the college and professional strength coach of the year.  He has coached at every level, from junior high and younger during his short stint in the private sector to the NFL. It seems like everyone and their sister claims to have developed a new training method. One question that I have always asked is, “Where are your results? There are large claims, and if it was extremely effective, you’d have been able to do something with it.” House has multiple bowl rings plus an NFC Championship, so the proof is evident there. Plus, he keeps getting hired at higher levels. If his program didn’t work, he’d be out of a job.

Practical Periodization gives viewers a unique insight into the inner workings of how he thinks, what his processes are for acquiring and assimilating knowledge, and how he implements knowledge into his program. When you have an original thinker like Joe Kenn, it’s not just the information they put out there that’s valuable; what’s really valuable is how they arrived at that conclusion. Once you can gain their vantage point, you can often see your own programming in a new light, like what aspects are worthwhile keeping and what can be changed or dropped.

The bottom line is this: Practical Periodization needs to be in your library. If you’re new to the game, you will get a great education in the proper means of annual planning. If you’ve been in the game for a while, you may have some things you’ve forgotten or a few new things you can pick up to apply to the annual plan. For a small investment, you can garner a great wealth of knowledge.

Header image courtesy of Big House Power