So your kid is going to the show? So what’s the plan for getting there?
The most popular plan we parents seem to choose is to play the chosen sport every chance available, get on as many teams as possible, and supplement with sport-specific camps and technical training.
Well, more is not always better. In terms of athlete development there is such thing as too much of a good thing.
The good news is that we have access to a world-class plan for developing athletes over the long-term. At the highest level, Canada has been a leader in the area of athlete development for years through the experts at Canadian Sport for Life. The Sport for Life Society is recognized as the global experts on Movement, Long-Term Athlete Development, and development of physical literacy. The purpose of the Canadian Sport for Life movement is to improve the quality of sport and develop physical literacy in Canada. The goal of Sport for Life is to link sport, education, recreation, health and governments to align community, provincial and national programming. Ultimately, Canadian Sport for Life, through the Long-Term Athlete Development Model, aims to develop complete athletes. The Long-Term Athlete Development Model is a multistage training, competition and recovery framework guiding an individual’s pathway through sport and physical activity from infancy through all phases of adulthood.
Why should you care?
Canadian Sport for Life and Long-Term Athlete Development is based in sport science, principals of human development and maturation. Canadian Sport for Life’s Long-Term Athlete Development Model is a tool for coaches that includes guidelines for training, competition and recovery.
Long-Term Athlete Development according to Canadian Sport for Life considers 10 Key Factors that influence how athletes train and compete effectively.
- Physical Literacy
- Developmental Age
- Sensitive Periods
- Mental, Cognitive and Emotional Development
- Excellence Takes Time
- System Alignment and Integration
- Continuous Improvement - Kaizen
What does this mean for parents?
Playing a lot of one sport will not develop an athlete. In fact, the evidence gathered by experts suggests that playing only one sport won’t develop a hockey player, a soccer player or a volleyball player. Developing a complete athlete requires strategic attention to far more than what gets covered in sport-specific programs.
At the root of the Long-Term Athlete Development Model is the development of Physical Literacy.
What is Physical Literacy?
Physical literacy is the cornerstone of both participation and excellence in physical activity and sport. Individuals who are physically literate are more likely to be active for life and to develop into complete, and even elite, athletes.
Physically literate individuals:
- Demonstrate a wide variety of basic human movements, fundamental movement skills and fundamental sports skills.
- Move with poise, confidence, competence and creativity in different physical environments (on the ground, both indoor and outdoor; in the air; in and on water (on snow and ice).
- Develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply and analyze different forms of movement.
- Make choices that engage them in physical activity, recreation or sport activities that enhance their physical and psychological wellness, and permit them to pursue sport excellence commensurate with their ability and motivation.
As with so many models developed by experts, the Long-Term Athlete Development Model is rarely implemented when the rubber hits the road. In theory many sport organizations reference the Long-Term Athlete Development Model, unfortunately few implement its concepts into the delivery of their programs.
So what can you do about it?
- Expose your kid to as many sports as possible.
- Play different sports in different seasons.
- Invest in the development of your kid’s physical literacy skills.
- Build a solid foundation of movement skills and patterns by working with a qualified sport conditioning and/or strength and conditioning coach.
- Challenge your local sport organizations to do more.
- Choose to participate in programs offered by organizations that are truly committed to developing complete athletes. Look for programs that focus on training and practice, not competition.
- Focus on Fun.
- Fuel your kid’s passion by making sure they are having fun.
For more information on the Long-Term Athlete Development Model, Physical Literacy and all things related to developing complete athletes, join our Athlete Development Facebook Group.
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