Friday with the Docs: Dr. Vladimir Issurin

Dr. Vladimir Issurin

DR: Dr. Issurin, it’s an honor to have you with us here today. Tell us a bit about your background, as an athlete and coach, in the former USSR.

VI: As an athlete I reached the international level in swimming, and during those two years I received a scholarship as a member of the USSR National team. I have coached children, adults and masters, but since the age of 23 I have started my doctoral education and have consequently become much more focused on the research aspect of development.

DR: You have been instrumental in refining the block system of training. What are the major advantages to using this method of training?

VI: Block Periodization (BP) has many benefits for high-performance athletes, namely: a higher rate of improvement due to the specifically concentrated loading, avoidance of conflicting physiological responses and excessive fatigue accumulation, and better conditions for technique perfection, peaking and restoration.

DR: What are some of the limitations or drawbacks to the Block system of training?

VI: Rationally organized preparation using a block model has few drawbacks. It is vitally important that block periodization systems be oriented mostly towards high-performance athletes. Low and medium level athletes’ progression can be successfully accomplished using traditional and less intensive approaches.

DR: You mentioned in your presentation that several versions of the block system exist, from that employed by Dr. Bondarchuk to the one used by the late Dr. Verkhoshansky. How does your model differ?

VI: My understanding and elucidation of the BP system totally corresponds to positions, which were formulated and published by Dr. Bondarchuk, and is rather different from the model employed by the late Dr. Verkhoshansky.

DR: How does the training of athletes in the west differ from what you have seen performed by the coaches in Israel?

VI: For quite a long time Israeli coaches have kept positive relations with western colleagues, inviting the lecturers to seminars, visiting training centers, etc. Of course, coaches of Soviet origin kept contacts with their Russian speaking colleagues. Therefore, advanced Israeli coaches have similar levels of competence as their western and eastern European colleagues. However, Israeli conditions and practice of high-performance sport are not resembled as they are with American and east European models. The total number of high-performance athletes is much less, even taking into account for the size of Israel’s population. Unfortunately, the level of basic physical education of schoolchildren is far from western standards. The contribution, nevertheless, of Israel’s top-athletes in the world continually improves.

DR: Coaches in the west often talk about “must read” books. Do you yourself have 3 or 4 books that you find are cornerstones in your own library?
VI: My own choice includes all of the books from Prof. Zatsiorsky, Hans Selye’s “The stress of life”, Atku Viru’s “Adaptation in Sport Training,” and a number of other books depending on the situation and current needs.

DR: What are some topics you’re currently investigating and/or researching, Dr. Issurin?

VI: Of course, I continue my efforts in the study and implementation of Block Periodization, and plan to prepare a new updated version of the book. Perhaps it will take two-three years. Besides that I am focused on the problem of training transfer and plan to accomplish an extensive review that will contain many aspects of this problem in a relatively new approach.

DR: Thank you for your time, Dr. Issurin, it’s truly been a pleasure.

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