We have been explaining the Long-Term Athletic Development model and went through the first three pillars last month. We are going to keep going down the rabbit hole, so to speak, of LTAD and the remaining pillars. We are going to focus on defining the pillar, problems, and solutions for each individual pillar.
- Pillar Four is about how LTAD pathways should encourage an early sampling approach for youth that promotes and enhances a broad range of motor skills.
Problem: Some people believe if a child is the “best” at a certain sport in their class (i.e. elementary or middle school), then it is in their best interest to quit every other sport and focus on that sport.
Solution: Sampling is the concept of participating in a variety of sports and positions as a youth athlete. This concept allows the athlete to learn different motor skills and develop into a more well-rounded athlete. This will ultimately benefit the athlete. In a 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey, they found 88% of college athletes participated in more than one sport as a child. The early sampling approach allows the athlete to develop physically, psychologically, and mentally to improve as an athlete and ultimately become better at the sport they choose when they are older. Remember, no one remembers how good you were in 6th grade, but they will remember how good you were in high school, college, and beyond.
- Pillar Five stresses that the health and well-being of the child should always be the central tenet of LTAD programs.
Problem: People come to HPI wanting us to “crush” their kids. This involves making them cry, vomit, and do things that only Navy Seals do. This is a counterintuitive apprach to training young athletes.
Solution: Our number one goal as Athletic Performance practitioners is the health and well-being of the athlete. Yes, we want to teach them work ethic and discipline, but the primary reason children initially engage in sports is for fun and enjoyment. Lack of fun and enjoyment is commonly the main cause of athletes dropping out from a sport. Activities should be kept fun for athletes so they can enjoy it and participate for a longer time, which will ultimately help their health and well-being.
- Pillar Six states that youth should participate in physical conditioning to help reduce the risk of injury to ensure their on-going participation in LTAD programs.
Problem: People believe their child should train but not with any sort of resistance. That means no weightlifting, powerlifting, or bodybuilding implements.
Solution: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people still believe that weight training will stunt your growth or hurt you. A proper, supervised and implemented program will not do either of these. The force of running, jumping, and cutting are far greater than any forces we could create in the weight room. As long as one is being coached on how to lift correctly and making appropriate progressions, injury should NOT occur. If anything it does the opposite…lifting weights allows our bones to densify, creating a stronger structure. It also allows our muscles to withstand and produce force, thus resulting in less injuries.