This is essentially a summary of my presentation last Friday at the NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Nashville. I think there is some food for thought here. In my opinion now we are selling our kids short, we need to rethink the whole process. I hope this will get people thinking and more importantly acting in their communities.Problems & ConcernsChronological age dominates training and competiti
If I maybe bold, we are doing a lot on LTAD at the moment, there are “critical periods” roughly relative to age but actually based on growth (sort of looking for the rapid peak and then drop of height changes) that are prime opportunities to elicit change. All systems are always trainable but there are “windows” that are much more likely to have very positive change. And they differ based on gender.
As example there is a second “speed” critical period right near the last growth spurt in both genders but for female that is approximately 12 years of age and for males it is approximately 14 1/2 years of age. These “windows” can be a number of years long but are not the same each time and are not the same from gender to gender. As example the second female speed is about from 11 yo to 13 yo whereas the second male speed is from about 13 yo to about 17 yo.
There are similar findings for suppleness, skill, stamina and strength, sometimes the time frames overlap, sometimes they do not.
Taken from, “Long-Term Athlete Development resource paper V. 2; Canadian Sport for Life” published by Canadian Sport Centres. The expert group of Istvan Balyi, Charles Cardinal, Colin Higgs, Steve Norris, Richard Way.
More information can be found at LTAD.ca publication ISBN 0-9738274-0-8
I think if you looked at slightly higher age ranges you would find a 3rd period and maybe 4th period of speed development which is dependent on when closure of the epithelial plates occurs in terms of chronological age. This has been my observation and my own experience, I grew a little over 1″ from 22-29 years of age (putting me about 5’10 1/2″), but my last great improvement in speed came about 24-25 years old. I don’t think this is consistent either and probably requires it be scaled and a potentially large sample greater than 500 individuals. In working with both females and males who have had different maturation rates I have found those who mature at slightly slower rates have greater absolute improvement potential, but generally speaking the level they reach is still greatly dependent on their starting point.
The effects of this are profound as those with slightly slower rates, but lack the height and strength values to go with the height, but have great power potential are at a disadvantage in sport at younger ages and likely to be cut or ride the pine despite being slightly behind those of similar skill, but at a higher level because of greater absolute values in size and strength. A youth/developmental coach who is interested in winning is going to play and coach those who are going to help that goal, the coach interested in long term development will focus on creating greater skill in all their athletes and give playing experience to all of them. The problem doesn’t extend only to youth sports, but high school activities as well were freshmen and JV teams now have tournaments and championships as well in some cases where coaches are now focusing on winning with those teams as well, instead of using frosh and JV tournaments as an opportunity to giving more playing time to more players.
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