We provide parents the opportunity to enhance their child's sports performance by providing them a custom Sports Specific workout, which will ultimately give them the EDGE above their competition, all while building confidence in their sport and in life.
Myth #4: Athlete X didn’t do LTAD, so mine shouldn’t either.
This is a classic one: A great athlete someplace recounts how they started playing sport X when they were 8 years old, and only played that sport along the way. He or she never played anything else, trained with extreme specialization all along the way, or never hit a weight room ever, and now he or she is the greatest player on earth. Logically, the young athlete you are working with could follow the same path.
Wrong. These athletes are outliers. They truly are the best in the world and have the genetics to prove it. A better argument might be, “Can you imagine how good he or she would have been if he or she had been a part of an LTAD model?”
Now that’s a scary thought!
LTAD is the only true model that we can follow if we want to train our athletes the right way. Don’t fall prey to the outliers, misconceptions, and myths that surround proper training.
Myth #2: LTAD says sport specialization is bad.Specialization will happen; the age at which it happens is the part that we must be concerned with. Even classic models of LTAD recognize that sport specialization must occur and even in some cases at an early age (figure skating and gymnastics are the best examples) for an athlete to reach an elite or world-class level.
In most sports, however, the best case is for late specialization with an early introduction. This means athletes are first introduced to the rules and concepts then to the skills used to participate at an early age. Later in life, they choose to specialize only after participating in other sports and in general physical preparation-type training.
Over the next 4 weeks I will be covering the topic of LTAD or better known as Long Term Athletic Development. You may be asking what LTAD is. Human Kinetics describes it as: LTAD is a model that people must fully understand all seven stages before implementing. Administrators, coaches, and parents should also remember that moving from one stage to another is based on the athlete’s development and not just chronological age; however, chronological age can be used as a guide. Some stages also identify a developmental age. For example, the beginning of the growth spurt identifies a specific developmental age, which occurs at widely varying chronological ages. Males and females develop at different rates, and their ages differ through the stages. LTAD, therefore, requires the identification of early, average, and late maturers to design training and competition programs that match athletes’ trainability and readiness. You can read the full article by clicking HERE.
The next 4 weeks will be covered as follows:
Week 1: Not for elite level athletes
Week 2 : Sport Specialization
Week 3: Multiple Sports
Week 4: They did't, so why should mine
Now lets dive into our week one topic
Myth #1: Not for elite level athletes.
The thinking goes that to be elite level, you have to start at a young age and continue on in a linear path to reach the highest levels. Something along the lines of if you are the best at 8 years old, 10 years old, and so on, you will also be the best at 27 years old. This is simply not true.
The correctly applied model of LTAD provides athletes with growth at every stage: Birth-6, 6-9, 10-13, 14-18, 19+.
At each of these stages, the fundamentals must be mastered, and then the athlete can be progressed; it is through this model of continuous, small improvements that an athlete can potentially become an elite level athlete.
Until next time...
Myth #3: Playing multiple sports is what LTAD is.
Much of the data that we have regarding LTAD refers solely to the number of sports that athletes play during their development. While this is a large part of a properly implemented LTAD program, it is not the only part. In fact, year-round sport participation can actually lead to a higher chance of burnout.
I think we could agree that 10-year-olds playing on travel teams year-round in basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc., would create the conditions that lead to burnout.
A properly designed LTAD program must also include general physical preparation that focuses on the development of physical literacy in all aspects (run, jump, throw, skip, catch, swim, balance, and more). We cannot only rely on multiple sport participation.
I have eavesdropped on quite a few conversation at youth sporting events and heard many topics being discussed among the parents. One recurring topic is “How early is too early for my child to strength training or lift weight?” and “What are the benefits?”
When the question of what age is too young, I like to reference this research article done by ACSM that states, “Generally speaking, if children are ready for participation in organized sports or activities — such as Little League baseball, soccer, or gymnastics — then they are ready for some type of strength training.”(1) All sports require a degree of strength to be able to participate. When you increase strength you are helping prevent future injuries.
Often times the parents are also concerned about injuries. In a study done by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), strength training caused 0.7% of injuries, while football was at 19%, basketball was at 15%, and soccer at 2%.(2) To limit the possibility of an injury to a youth athlete, it would be recommended to have a qualified instructor or coach with an athlete to coach ratio of 10:1. As for me personally, I like to lower the ratio to no more than 4:1. By doing this, I can focus on proper form and lifting technique.
In a 2012 article, published by the Mayo Clinic it listed the following benefits:
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when training our younger population.
Most of these came from the NSCA “Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.”
These are some basic guidelines. Once the young athletes is comfortable with training we will gradually increase their training load. Slowly transitioning young athletes from basic movements to advance is key to a LTAD (Long Term Athletic Development) program. Being a coaching youth athletes is about helping them reach their full potential.
The popularity of youth sports has grown tremendously over the last few years. It is imperative now more than ever before that we teach the parents and our young athletes the benefits of a strength and conditioning. Our young athletes many not understand why they are strength training and will participate only because their parent or coach told them to. In time the child will see improvements in their performance along with their parents and peers praising them on how much they have improved in their sport. Being able to change kid’s life with training is a blessing.
1.Faigenbaum, Avery, and Lyle Micheli. "Youth Strength Training." American College of Sports Medicine. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/youthstrengthtraining.pdf>.
2. Howard, Rick. "Why Youth Strength and Conditioning Matters." NSCA. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nsca.com/education/articles/why-youth-strength-and-conditioning-matters/>.
3. "Tween and Teen Health." Strength Training: OK for Kids? Mayo Clinic, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758>.