Keynote Presentation – Evolution of the Athlete Conference – Long Term Athletic Development


Position Statement
We must stop trying to emulate/replicate the Eastern European model of LTAD. In worked in the context of that socio political environment, that society no longer exists. Certainly we can look at elements that will work in our society and deal with our reality. We must also recognize that in the past in the US and Australia some aspects of LTAD where done quite well, both by chance and design. – That is context of what I plan to present today.

Crucial Questions

What are the career path expectations of athletes in your sport?

What is the Long Term Development model in your sport?

How do you account or nurture of natural development?

What is the final result’?

Defining the Young Athlete

Growth – Increase in size of the body as a whole

Maturation – Progress toward biological maturity

Development – Acquiring behavioral competence

Athletically Gifted

Anointed as the next _______

What does that mean?

Accepted Norm – 10 years/10,000 hours – Is that realistic?

Not a seamless process – must earn the rite of passage through each stage of development

Achievement Zones

Zone One is the foundation. This is where the athlete starts. They get familiar with training. They learn routine. The work is more general in nature. They get in a comfort zone.

Zone Two is the performance zone. Here they learn to be uncomfortable. They intensity is higher. There is a narrower focus.

Zone Three is the high performance zone. This is the zone where many are called and few are chosen. The focus is laser like. This demands the highest level of commitment. Everything here is purposeful, mindful and directed. There is no fluff. This is where the big dogs play.

Balyi Model – Traditional

Initiation Stage

FUNdamental Stage

Training to Train

Training to Compete

Training to Win


Contemporary Revisionist Model

The Process

Identify the athlete – This should be generic

Track – Observe & Guide

Develop – Give them the tools

Recognize & Account For:

Fast Adaptors

Slow Adaptors

Direct & Redirect – Must not lose talent

Developing a mindset

Growth Mindset

The belief that you can cultivate basic qualities for success

Seek the challenge and thrive on it

Effort is OK and failure is an opportunity for growth

Fixed Mindset

Everything is about outcome, not process

Success or failure defines you

They are often carried away with their superiority so they do not learn how to do the work and cope with setbacks

Teach them how to fail

Failure is a learning opportunity

Do not protect them from failure

Learning a lifestyle – 24 Hour Athlete

Must consider GENDER differences – too much lip service

Most females programs are imitation of male programs

Coaching Boys Coaching Girls

Coaching Boys & Girls

MUST consider all aspects of development

Emotional Cognitive

Ethical Socio/Cultural

Culture of the Sport

Background of the Athletic


Advantaged or disadvantaged

Parental, siblings or relatives accomplishments


The Role of the Parent

Parental Overinvestment

Hyper Parenting

Helicopter Mom or dad


Don’t let them fail – Lake Wobegon Effect

Over programming

Play time becomes work time

Teach them to love movement and exercise!!!

Do not punish with exercise!!!

Coaching is the key to LTAD

Transport System Escort System

The System

Principle based, not sport based

Can you fit the program to the athlete, not the athlete to the program?


Chronological age dominates training and competition from ages 11 to 16

“Critical Periods” are not recognized by coaches

Low training to competition ratio in early training ages

Adult competition schedule is imposed on children

Competitive calendar governed by tradition rather than growth and development and pedagogy

Adult training programs are imposed on children

Male programs are imposed on females

Very little sport science, sports medicine input in youth and developing athletes training programs

Discuss entry

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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