If you like this article please share it with your friends and colleagues

    Athletic training for youngsters

    One of the hallmarks of youth sport training is the concept of same, but less (SBL) where young athletes are trained in the same way, often using the same practices and drills as high performance, older athletes only doing less work with shorter practices. This occurs especially in sports that depend primarily on metabolic conditioning like running, swimming, or cycling. Skills in these sports are relatively simple and are already well established by the time athletes in these sports reach the high performance level.

    SBL training is a disaster for young athletes. While it may be a common practice it is not a good one. Younger athletes have unique training needs that can only be satisfied at certain periods during their athletic lives. If we continue training young athletes just like their older counterparts then there will be large gaps in their knowledge of their sports and their basic abilities.

    Every serious training program uses the process of periodization to map out an athlete's plan to reach peak performance. Usually these plans cover a period of one year. Training for the Olympics or some other 'bucket list' competition may consist of several 1-year plans leading to the Games.

    Periodization plans define the different types of training the athlete needs and when these will occur during the 1-year period. Different kinds of training take place at various times during the preparation period.

    If we apply the periodization concept to training young athletes then it's easy to see youth sport participation as one giant periodization plan, one that covers several years. This is why understanding long-term athlete development (LTAD) is so critical to creating effective youth sport programs. If we want these youth programs to eventually produce elite athletes then there is a path we can follow.

    I've written several times that the jobs of youth sport coaches and high performance coaching are fundamentally different. SBL, even though it seems like a good idea and is easy to implement, won't develop the skills and qualities that youngsters need to move to the elite level.

    A good comparison might be that of a mathematics teacher. Young children don't start their Form 1 math education with probability statistics, they start with simple arithmetic and move on to other, more complex mathematical concepts as they master elementary ones.

    Sport is no different. It's not just skills and training. Youngsters actually have to learn how to be athletes. The physical skills and physical training are only part of the process. If we try to skip the lead-up skills then we will end up with athletes with huge gaps in their background that really can't be made up later.

    LTAD periodizes an athlete's 'program' by outlining what skills they have to learn, when they have to learn them, and the kinds of training they should be doing at each stage of their lives.

    During one of the earliest stages the primary goal is to develop physical literacy. Children have until they are about 11 or 12 years old to do this. Afterwards it's a struggle that can never be fully overcome. It's like learning a language: Learn it easily while young or struggle with it later.

    In the Learning to Train stage youngsters learn what training actually means. They have to learn the lingo, the etiquette required to use equipment and facilities successfully and safely, and they have to learn what 'training' in their sport actually is. There's a lot of physical activity involved in this stage but the focus is mostly on cognitive development. They will need the knowledge and skills they gain in this stage in every stage that follows.

    In the Training to Train stage the primary focus is to stimulate improvement in metabolic systems and building a background of various kinds of conditioning. This is the stage where athletes get faster, stronger, and build stamina. This is the stage that most people think of when they think of sport training.

    In the Training to Compete stage athletes learn, you guessed it, how to compete. As a coach I've seen many athletes who were absolutely great in training situations but who never quite delivered what I thought they were capable of in competition. Learning to compete is a skill related to but separate from training. Training is absolutely essential to be a successful competitor but there is more to competition than merely being in good shape. In this stage athletes learn how to use their skills and conditioning in competition with other athletes.

    Coaching education

    The key to implementing LTAD is having coaches that not only know their sport but who also understand how the LTAD model works in their sport and why it's important. Coaches have to know what stage their athletes are in and provide instruction, training, and competition that is appropriate for that stage. Most of all, coaches have to know why this is important.

    Unfortunately most coaching education focuses on the sport itself. It's not so much aimed at training older athletes, it simply doesn't recognize that there's any difference. Very little coaching education addresses age appropriate training, never mind LTAD stages.

    LTAD needs to be part of coaching education. It contains basic information about how youngsters actually become athletes. It shouldn't be something that's tacked on later. If we can provide a well developed, age appropriate program for youngsters at various stages then the elite athletes that eventually rise to the top will have better skills and a deeper understanding of their sport.


    Bill Price (price@sportkid.asia) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.

     

    All articles

    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018 (1007 views)

    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018 (258 views)

    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018 (258 views)

    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018 (450 views)

    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018 (315 views)

    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018 (309 views)

    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018 (267 views)

    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018 (477 views)

    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018 (302 views)

    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018 (248 views)

    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018 (402 views)

    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018 (265 views)

    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018 (330 views)

    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018 (360 views)

    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018 (603 views)

    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018 (356 views)

    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018 (388 views)

    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018 (384 views)

    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018 (325 views)

    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017 (239 views)

    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017 (1871 views)

    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017 (440 views)

    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017 (607 views)

    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017 (381 views)

    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017 (483 views)

    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017 (454 views)

    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017 (1701 views)

    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017 (745 views)

    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017 (513 views)

    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017 (478 views)

    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017 (597 views)

    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017 (926 views)

    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017 (520 views)

    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017 (499 views)

    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017 (491 views)

    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017 (718 views)

    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017 (469 views)

    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017 (442 views)

    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017 (426 views)

    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017 (478 views)

    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017 (458 views)

    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017 (589 views)

    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017 (546 views)

    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017 (460 views)

    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016 (477 views)

    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016 (139 views)

    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016 (426 views)

    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016 (461 views)

    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016 (432 views)

    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016 (1424 views)

    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016 (418 views)

    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016 (793 views)

    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016 (1748 views)

    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016 (405 views)

    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016 (495 views)

    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016 (441 views)

    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016 (407 views)

    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016 (412 views)

    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016 (1511 views)

    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016 (479 views)

    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016 (968 views)

    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016 (1340 views)

    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016 (2021 views)

    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015 (579 views)

    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015 (463 views)

    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015 (481 views)

    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015 (520 views)

    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015 (540 views)

    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015 (439 views)

    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015 (595 views)

    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018


    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018


    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018


    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018


    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018


    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018


    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018


    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018


    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018


    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018


    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018


    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018


    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018


    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018


    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018


    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018


    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018


    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018


    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017


    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017


    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017


    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017


    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017


    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017


    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017


    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017


    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017


    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017


    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017


    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016


    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016


    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016


    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015