Long Term Athlete Development – A Process


Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is not a framework or a model it is a process. It is very neat and convenient to attach labels to various stages of athlete development but that sends the wrong message. It is a process that is fluid and dynamic. It is a process that is highly influenced by growth and development in the early stages. It all starts with developing a physically literate child well versed in the ABC’s of movement. It is so easy to forget that. Without the basis in fundamental movement skills all the development plans and subsequent stages are for not. Without physical literacy high-level sport skill can never be developed to its fullest capabilities. It is imperative to take advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the so called “skill hungry” years, ages seven to eleven, not to teach specific sport skill but to teach fundamental movement skills- Run, Jump & Throw and its very permutations in a playful informal environment. This will start the process in a sound fundamental manner. It will give the youngster confidence and control of their bodies. It will enhance their ability to learn specific sport skill. It will make them less prone to injury later on. That does not mean that sport skill is not taught rather it means that that fundamental movement skills lead and sport skills follow. My rule of thumb is to keep the fundamental movement skill development ahead of the sport skill development by about two months (no science here, just observation and experience). Sport skill at this level should be very basic and fundamental guided by discover rather that strict formal teaching progressions. Don’t be in a hurry, get them started on the right foot, let physical maturation, cognitive and emotional development be the guide. Remember it is a process. The 2020 Olympians are now approximately 12 years old – are they physically literate?

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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Vern Gambetta

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