Volume 20, Issue 7 | October 13, 2020
Long-Term Athlete Development
While "having fun" is the primary reason that kids play sports, it's important that our young athletes also grow in skill while enjoying the experience. The Long-Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) was originally developed by Dr. Istvan Balyi of Canada's National Coaching Institute. Acknowledged worldwide as an expert in athlete development, Balyi's model is now the basis for the US Olympic Committee's Athlete Development Model (ADM) and the framework behind individual sport models worldwide. In the video above, Dr. Paul Rotert from the NCAA's Sports Science Institute explains what LTAD is and why it's important for parents to understand.
What is LTAD?
LTAD is all about age-appropriate development. That means that whether we're developing Olympic athletes or simply lifelong participants in sport, coaches and parents provide appropriate instruction and emphasis at certain ages. This pathway not only serves to develop the athlete at the appropriate physical pace to maximize skills, but also takes into account cognitive (mental) development and keeps kids from "burning out" at an early age. There are 4 main stages of the LTAD model:

  • Stage 1: The FUNdamental Stage (Males & Females 6-10 years old)
  • Stage 2: The Training to Train Stage (Males 10-14 years old/ Females 10-13 years old)
  • Stage 3: The Training to Compete Stage (Males 14-18 years old/ Females 13-17 years old)
  • Stage 4: The Training to Win Stage (Males 18+/ Females 17+)

The first two stages are the most important for athlete development. Even when young athletes show great ability for their age, it's critical that coaches and parents keep the focus on having fun, learning fundamentals, and practicing skills in a positive and fun environment. This is also why early specialization has been shown to contribute more to burnout than success, particularly for team sports.
As parents, consider your own child's development and ask yourself if you're following the LTAD model. For more information, click the following links to read details from Canada's Sport for Life initiative or the US Olympic Committee's American Development Model brochure.
Project Play's State of Play 2020
The Aspen Institute's Project Play last week released their annual "State of Play" report for 2020, which provides an overview of trends in youth sports during the past year. This year's report is headlined by a look at how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of youth sports in America over the past six months. The report surveys families from across the country and includes a number of interesting details, including the alarming statistic that nearly 3 in 10 children now have no desire to return to the primary sport they played prior to the pandemic. The report also provides "pre-pandemic trends" for youth and high school age groups, as well as a "Call to Leadership" for the American public. We think it's worthwhile information for anyone involved in sports. Click the link below to take a look.
A Prayer for Parents
Loving God, You are the giver of all we possess, the source of all our blessings. We thank and praise you. Thank you for the gift of our children. Help us to set boundaries for them, and yet encourage them to explore their athletic abilities. Give us the strength and courage to treat each day and each game as a fresh start. May this sport help our children come to know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. May your Holy Spirit help them to grow in faith, hope, and love, so they may know peace, truth, and goodness. May their ears hear your voice. May their eyes see your presence in all things. May their lips proclaim your word. May their hearts be your dwelling place. May their hands do works of charity. May the physical trials of the game help them to learn how to walk in the way of Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Lord. Amen. 

Adapted from: http://www.rc.net/arlington/stann/Teen%20and%20Parent%20Prayer%20Booklet.pdf. Find more than 300 prayers for coaches, athletes, teams and sports parents by visiting Play Like a Champion's Prayer Resources at www.playlikeachampion.org/prayer.
Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series
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