News Flash: Olympic Cycle Changed to Six Years.

News Flash: Olympic Cycle Changed to Six Years.

News Flash, Lausanne, Switzerland. Here is the latest news.

The IOC today announced that effective immediately there will be two Olympic Cycles.

The first one, known from this date forward as the “Pretenders Cycle” will run on the traditional four year Olympic cycle.

The second cycle, announced today as the “Contenders Cycle”, is a six year cycle. It is expected that the majority of Olympic medal winners will be using the new six year cycle.

Our Olympic reporter Wayne Goldsmith has more…..

For coaches and athletes who have been successful at the Olympic Games, this news is not so new.

Four years is just not enough time to prepare an athlete or team to be successful at an Olympic Games.

The real reason is that four years is not really four years….Olympic time is not real time. If Einstein had been involved in coaching an Olympic sport this whole relativity thing might have been completely different!

The biggest mistake coaches, athletes and sporting organisations make is thinking that they have a full four years – 208 weeks to prepare for an Olympics.

Let’s look at what happens in reality.

The final few weeks before an Olympics are full of distractions and interruptions to preparation: travel, media commitments, ceremonies, tapering.

Then there’s the Games.

Then the inevitable three post Games activities: party, party, party.

For athletes it’s then the home coming, media activities, recovery and the all important brief period of intraspection also called the “OK, now what do I with my life” period. This could continue for weeks or even months.

For coaches it is the ubiqitous Olympic review and the commencement of the “do I even have a job” phase – which can be very stressful and is not a productive coaching period.

Then anywhere from one month to one year after the Games, coaches and athletes start to look at the next Games and start the planning process.

So if you are using the four year cycle model, much of the first year after the Games is lost in recovery, review and re-planning. Now you have three years left for serious preparation.

Take off a few weeks here and there due to illness and injury, peaking and tapering for minor competitions, personal time off, holidays, travel, work commitments, family commitments and at best you have two years of committed training time between Olympic Games. Committed training time as in training time where the athletes are working to their full potential and their preparation is not compromised by other distractions.

The four year cycle is OK for the Games’ administrators, it is fine for television audiences, it is great for tourism executives but for athletes, teams and coaches, a genuine four year preparation period does not exist….unless…….

Unless you change your thinking, planning and preparation to the new Olympic cycle – the six year Olympic cycle.

  • Year 1 in our six year cycle is about laying down the physical, mental, technical, tactical and cultural foundations for the Olympic journey;
  • Year 2 in the new cycle – includes an Olympic Games. If you are going to these Games use them to learn, grow, mature and to thrive in the Olympic competition environment. If you are not going to the Olympic Games, create a training environment which simulates Olympic competition as close as possible and grow from the experience;
  • Year 3 in the new cycle is another year of hard, tough, uncompromising preparation. This is the key year in the new cycle because when your competition is having their tea parties, doing their tv specials and taking time to sit on a mountain top contemplating the mysteries of their navel, you are gaining a preparation and performance edge over them. Every training week in Year 3 is worth two weeks of any other year;
  • Year 4 is what I call the preparation of personality. In this year, with a solid three years of hard work behind you, embark on a mental skills development program. Deliberately seek out and embrace challenging situations that test your ability to deal with adversity, pressure, pain and difficulty. Learn as much as possible about yourself and how you deal with competition pressures. This is the year to get mentally tough!
  • Year 5 is about pressure. In year 5 of our new cycle, the aim should be to make training and preparation more intense, more challenging and more demanding than the Olympic competition could ever be. This uncompromising commitment to preparation in Year 5 gives athletes, teams and coaches the confidence to take on the world in Year 6;
  • Year 6 – the Olympic Year. If you have got it right, this is the year you can relax and enjoy the final months of preparation. Why? Because you have spent five years working to your full potential and preparing with greater focus than your competition. Success comes from confidence and confidence comes from knowing. If you know your preparation, your commitment, your creativity, your innovation, your attitude, your training, your recovery and your attention to detail is greater than that of your competition, you can head to the Games with confidence, composure and certainty.

There are historical reasons for a four year cycle. There are business and marketing reasons behind a four year cycle. Most government Olympic sports program funding cycles are four years and for that reason coaches and athletes are often forced into following the traditional Olympic cycle.

But there are no legitimate or valid human performance reasons behind a four year Olympic cycle – the name of the game is winning and that follows no calender, no cycle, no Government reporting periods and no television network schedule.

So real Olympic Contender or just another Olympic Pretender…..success is your choice.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • james marshall Posted June 17, 2010 6:20 pm

    Hi Wayne,
    slightly related- got an athlete just qualified for the youth olympics, but have misgivings about this as an enterprise for selecting early developers.

    I suppose this could be an example of the first olympics in year 2 of your 6 year cycle. The problem is continuity of coaching over 6 years- here the athlete gets passed around from coach to coach as they move up the rankings.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted June 29, 2010 10:00 am

      Thanks James.

      I don’t think any nation has got this right. But there is no doubt in my mind that continuity = consistency and consistency = competition success so it is a good debate to have.

      Thanks again,


  • Ian Simon Posted September 1, 2017 12:53 pm

    Hi Wayne,
    Does the schedule still hold for a successful athlete in the first Olympics (year 2) of your cycle? Surely they need to recover (probably mentally more than physically) from those games?

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted September 2, 2017 3:39 am

      Hi Ian – thanks for the comment.

      I find that most people are physiology driven – so they think in terms of physical loading. You can have a year where your focus is on technique, swimming skills, bike handling, cornering, braking, descending, bunch riding etc etc and even though your physical load is a little less, you’re increasing and building your capabilities in other important areas. And absolutely – variations in “mental” loading are incredibly important.


Add your comment or reply. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: All Content on this site is Copyright Wayne Goldsmith.