Hello out there all you sports enthusiasts, parents and athletes – welcome to the hot topic of long-term athletic development. First of all, why is it important and what does that mean, really – of course we all want to be athletic, healthy and able to play sports into our later years right? Well with our big event coming up focusing on youth training I would like to aim this towards our 8-18 year old population and how important a concept L.T.A.D. is.
Con-tro-ver-sy! Volleyball, baseball, soccer (O.M.G.), you name the sport – most all of the coaches want your children to play year-round now including an intense schedule of conditioning. You’ve got a decision to make:
- I have this future Buster Posey or Kerri Walsh here, a full D-I scholarship waiting and these coaches can help take him or her there right?
- My kid is just like the rest of the 99% of them participating and just wants to play, have fun, be with their friends, and hey if they get really good at the sport and gain some positive confidence, leadership, teamwork = BONUS.
- Realize there are developmental times for improving specific sport skills but overall you want a well-rounded athlete BEFORE specializing.
Well obviously there have been the superstar athlete success stories, and if Real Madrid wants to sign your 11-year old, then take your family and move to Spain (this just actually happen to a kid from the DeAnza Force soccer club by the way)!
BECOME A GENERALIST
Early specialization creates over-use imbalances and injuries that, when started at an early age and exposed to long-term can be difficult to overcome. The answer?
- If your kid is that future superstar then focus on #1 developing their weaknesses and build a more balanced, durable athlete #2 TRAIN for optimal strength, power, speed, agility and sport specific endurance #3 build-in recovery days/weeks to make sure physically and mentally your child won’t burnout or break down.
- If your child is in that 99% then don’t specialize, PLEASE encourage them to play other sports and engage in free-flowing game like activity – you’ll see the development come naturally and without pressure.
- Training workouts should focus on the aforementioned general strength & conditioning qualities, improving overall athleticism, and there you go LTAD.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISES ARE THE BEST?
“The closer the exercise is to the sport movement, the more likely the exercise is to screw up the sport” … Mel Siff
Coming from one of the worlds most respected Sport Scientists, this is a very important concept. Have you ever seen those infomercials with the gadgets to improve softball pitcher arm speed or increase golfers driving distance? In gyms over the years people come to trainers wanting the magic exercise to improve their game, and believe me I’ve seen some crazy stuff. *Build an understanding of the qualities that need to go into the sport movement, and train those diligently! Along with good coaching on the field or court + some specific exercises in the gym:
…you will see those qualities carry over to athletic improvement.
Parents often bring their 15/16 year old children to us asking to improve their speed & quickness, and we have a dilemma. There are a few things that may have happen during those first 15/16 years:
- You may have missed the optimal developmental times for speed potential
(we will get deep into this topic @ our youth workshop 8/24 @ Evolution)
- Check out the family genetics J and get over them being the next Usain Bolt
- Start the neural training NOW, hope you can find that fuel and bring it out!
Some of the most successful athletes didn’t start playing their specific sport until much older. Hakeem Olajuwan (one of the greatest basketball players of all time) didn’t start playing hoops until 17 yrs old and attributes his greatness and longevity to playing soccer and other sports before basketball. Adam Scott played rugby, basketball and tennis all year round before specializing in golf at age 14. Get with the right team and information about development, let it come naturally, focus on overall athleticism and give them opportunities to play without a lot of pressure. They’ll appreciate that much more when they’re 40, can’t play football, baseball, or soccer anymore but are happy they have wicked tennis backhand J