Dictionary.com defines the word adapt as the ability to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, ect. Charles Darwin suggested that adaptation is more of a causal factor for survival than strength or intelligence. I've come to believe he was right. The ability to adapt and survive is evident all around us, but when we talk about sports physical training the notion of adaptation gets lost in lofty power clean numbers and speedy forty times.
Instead of periodization, we should be talking much more about training adaptation and hardiness. It's more logical to think about adaptations that occur within the body as the result of training, i.e., strength and endurance. I'm down with that, but there's a whole lot more here to this idea that we can't readily see.
If we work backwards, how blatant is the notion of adaptation during competition? Athletes who can adjust or adapt to the competition environment usually succeed at all levels, those that can't usually don't. Yet, how often is this skill-set emphasized and developed in the training environment? Rather, the easy emphasis is on toughness, right? But bravado does not globally equate with adapting, nor do highlighting PRs, but from a coaching-science perspective, it would make more sense to ditch the PRs and work on emphasizing both "challenge" and "unpredictability" in the training environment. As far as challenge goes, I'm not talking about setting off a barnstorm of barbell squat competitions, but challenging human systems during training and in a manner that's not so readily predictable.
Ultimately, there's a lot of value in teaching athletes how to recognize, negotiate, deal with, and overcome physical training-based challenges that have some relationship aspect to the competitive environment. This training aspect should be well thought out and have some intertwined "safe" risks, too. As a coach, I have to be willing to go there myself, to understand the value of this concept, to be able to describe the terrain, and to be able to clearly communicate the way through challenging situations. In others words, to develop "learners" in the training environment.
Then again, I could also continue to write something like this on the training board day after day after day and most likely fool myself about having it all covered: