Long Term Performance Development
Just over a year since its conception, Jeff Chappill reflects on current thinking within the sports coaching fraternity and the changes made within our training sessions.
Lincsquad Ahead of the Game
In February 2016 a presentation was made to the LincsQuad Youth Committee with regards the implementation of LTPD. This presentation was based around some of the details outlined in this handout. After a great deal of consultation with Coaches, Governing bodies and parents the committee took the decision to get “ahead of the game”. It saw that over the coming months and years the majority of the governing bodies will start to adopt the LTPD principles surrounding not only the training of Youth athletes but the way in which we target athletes of all ages and abilities.
After much research a rethink into how to coach fundamental movement skills (FMS) to children has come about. The evolved model promotes coaching FMS throughout a lifetime of sport and challenges opinion that strength training should be held back until children reach adolescence.
Every parent wants to do what’s best for their child.
And every coach will echo that sentiment, and profess to want what’s best for their performers.
But do parents and coaches always stick to their principles and lead children down the most suitable path when they encounter key junctions in their life?
What is in the best interest of a child can sometimes be obscured, forgotten or even ignored.
In the pursuit of sporting success, for example, more often than not, the hankering for short-term profit triumphs over long-term ambition.
Impatience distracts the mind from what is truly important and can directly hinder a child’s long-term progress, success and happiness.
Coaches adore the phrase, ‘a season is a marathon not a sprint’. Well, so is a child’s physical development.
But what we have seen in the context of sport and physical activity is children’s development being rushed, to the extent that they are not learning the diverse range of core movement skills that are necessary for building long-term athletic confidence and competence.
Some grass-roots coaches overlook the teaching of fundamental movement skills (which include the ability to crawl, balance, run, skip, jump, catch and throw) altogether in favor of sport-specific drills and games, unaware, perhaps, that they have bypassed the basic building blocks that support the development of physical literacy.
And unaware too of the adverse effects this could have on sustained participation and well-being, not to mention the risk of burnout and injury that threatens to emerge like a rabbit out of a hat at some point in an athlete’s future.
These fundamental body shapes and movements can also be honed by playing a wide variety of sports.
But with children often encouraged to specialise in one sport at an early age, they are being deprived of this opportunity to expand their range of movement skills.
This can hinder long-term development, with research telling us those who specialise early when it is not essential have shorter careers in sport and a lower likelihood of going on to achieve success at a senior level.
Coaches and parents must not lose sight of the long-term horizon, and remember to pause for thought at these sporting T-junctions. In the clamor for immediate success, coaches and parents push their athletes/children into the role of the hare, rather than the tortoise. But they are forgetting that a child’s sporting journey should not be treated as a race to begin with.
Time for a revamp
Governing bodies and coach educators have traditionally used the Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model to promote and endorse the value of fundamental movement skills (FMS).
The framework was developed at the turn of the millennium, but its overarching theoretical principles have recently been built upon by Cardiff Metropolitan University lecturers Dr Jon Oliver and Dr Rhodri Lloyd.
After years of evidence-based research, Jon, who is a Reader in Applied Pediatric Exercise Science, and Rhodri, a Senior Lecturer in Strength and Conditioning, have unveiled an evolved model that promotes coaching of FMS throughout a lifetime of sport, not just childhood.
It also flies in the face of long-accepted opinion that strength training should be held back until participants reach adolescence.
Their Youth Physical Development Model (YPDM) has been integrated into the brand-new ‘How to Coach the Fundamentals of Movement’ workshop being offered by sports coach UK, which replaces the old FUNdamentals of Movement suite of workshops.
Sports coach UK’s Development Lead Officer for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, David Turner, helped design the new workshop in collaboration with Jon, Rhodri and sports coach UK coach educator Jon Woodward.
David explains: ‘We’ve gone back to the basics and tried to isolate what the core movements and competencies are that children need to have before they move on to some of those more difficult and more complex exercises, skills and movements.
‘Research is telling us YPDM is a much better version. It has a greater emphasis on developmentally appropriate training than previous models used in the coaching of pre-adolescent and adolescent children and young people.
‘What it is fantastic in doing is explaining to coaches what their training should focus on in these different development stages.’
The birth of the YPDM model, and the new workshop, could not be better timed, with the valuable role FMS play in supporting ongoing enjoyment and lifelong participation in sport and physical activity being – at long last – nationally acknowledged.
The need for children to be taught these basic building blocks from an early age has now been written into the PE national curriculum for primary schools, while governing bodies have recognised that a Multi-skills upbringing leads to longer-term ability and success, and have begun incorporating FMS into their early level qualifications.
The physical cost of inactivity
This acknowledgement is a welcome start, coming at a time when there is an even greater threat to children’s physiological development – the trappings of modern society.
For many young children, fast food, computer games and television have taken over from climbing trees, playing ball games and making dens as the hobbies of choice.
Combined with a decline in the number of children’s play areas and the perception that it is no longer safe for children to play outside, the country has stumbled slowly but surely into an inactivity crisis that is costing the UK economy billions every year in health care costs.
Three quarters of children aged between five and 15 are failing to meet the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendations on physical activity.
As a direct consequence, children are depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn FMS outside of a school or club setting.
The new sports coach UK workshop will furnish coaches with the ammunition to combat the detrimental effect sedentary lifestyles are having on our children’s physical, psychological and social development.
The model does not discriminate over age
The painstaking research undertaken by Jon and Rhodri has given rise to a model that allows athlete-centred and developmentally appropriate coaching.
‘With the popular model that existed, nobody had really looked at the supporting evidence to see how children responded to exercise and training,’ says Jon.
‘That older model was suggesting there were very specific windows of time when you should train different types of fitness in children. Actually, through Jon and Rhodri’s work, it told us that, while different types of training might be beneficial at different times of their development, actually, children are responsive to all types of training all throughout childhood and adolescence.’
So, while the expression ‘the younger, the better’ does bear scrutiny in the teaching of FMS, evidence shows that balance, agility and coordination training should form an important part of adult coaching sessions too.
Let’s examine the impact on young children first, and why organisations like sports coach UK are pushing the agenda of trying to embed movement skills in children at as early an age as possible.
The central nervous system develops rapidly early in life, making it the ideal time to build new motor pathways. And coaches are able to reinforce the learning of motor skills through the medium of exercise.
‘It’s easier for children to learn movements and learn coordination if we can try and give them appropriate physical activity and exercise training when they are young,’ explains Jon.
‘That will then allow them to have the skills to go on and be more active and take part in a wider variety of sports and activities when they are older.
‘But equally, the model could still apply to someone a bit older who hasn’t been through that process. It gets more difficult, but you could go back to the start of the process and get them to learn movement skills so they can perform exercises that will help them with physical activity.’
England Athletics National Coaches make a point of allocating time for core movement skills, regardless of the age or ability of the athletes they are working with.
Phases for a life in Sport
Children don’t have fun;
- They develop bad habits because of the over-emphasis on winning;
- Their skill development is poor;
- They don’t reach their optimal performance level;
- Many burn out and drop out of sport
Recommendations for managing training workloads of youth.
For young children entering sport(s) development pathways, focus should be geared towards preparatory conditioning and fun-based activities, with a reduced focus on competitive fixtures.
As children mature and develop towards adulthood, the ratio between training and competition should change to reflect a greater focus on competitive performance.
- Children who engage with competitive sports should follow a long-term athletic development plan that includes preparatory conditioning and transition mesocycles to facilitate recovery, growth, and to reduce the risk of overuse injury
- During preparation and transition mesocycles, practitioners should endeavour to address any physical limitations (e.g., reduced muscle strength and power or decrements in sprint mechanics) or common injury risk factors (e.g., muscle imbalances, inefficient landing mechanics).
- The process of monitoring training workloads must be holistic in nature and procedures for identifying overtraining in adults should not necessarily be applied to youth.
What Schools are Doing
Recommendations for practitioners working within educational systems.
- Children should receive targeted integrative neuromuscular training wherever possible within each lesson
- “Athletic development” should not be constrained to aspiring young athletes or independent blocks of health-related exercise for a single school term.
- Wherever possible, schools should adopt a long term periodized approach to physical education to ensure that youth have the best opportunity to make continued worthwhile changes in physical fitness.
- The primary school years offer a unique opportunity to develop fundamental motor skills, enhance muscular strength, and improve physical literacy. This should be recognized within primary school curricula, whereby youth should be provided with regular opportunities to develop such qualities within a creative and supportive learning environment.
Lincsquad are equally applying these principles to our training.
Athlete Motor Skills
To develop an all-round athlete we must ensure that they have the necessary motor skills to perform.
Through the FUNdamental principles and by training the ABC’s (Agility, Balance, Co-ordination and Speed), we can ensure that we highlight and develop not only the athletes strength but also their weakness’s.
PLANNING THE PRACTICE
The development of Lincsquad training now embraces the model and a coached session will focus strongly towards improvement in techniques.
An example session is outlined below, along with an accompanying session plan.
In order to conduct an effective workout in a positive sports environment, you need to plan ahead, be organized, offer meaningful activities and critically reflect on the lesson after each workout. A sample plan includes:
- Facilities and Safety Check – Time to check the facilities for potential safety hazards.
- Introduction – A good time for general announcements, roll call and explanation of the workout.
- Warm-Up – Includes the warm-up run, stretches and build-up runs.
- Main Theme – The focus of the training session.
- Cool-Down – Similar to the warm-up. The finish to the active part of the session.
- Closure – Time to interact with the athletes regarding feedback, praise, encouragement, motivational talks and upcoming information.
MASTER 60-MINUTE TRAINING SCRIPT
|2||Assemble your team members and make announcements|
|5||Warm-Up Run (take attendance)|
|10||Group Stretching Exercises|
|8||Running Drills (strength & technique training)|
|5||Build-Up Runs (or Running Game)|
|20||CORE TRAINING ACTIVITY|
|5||Cool-Down Exercises (make announcements regarding your next training session)|
Session plan training distance guidelines as set by BTF (distances per rep)
|Age||8 and under||9-12||13-16||16-19|
Summary of the key points recognised
“It is not about how far or how fast it’s about how well”.
“The hankering for short-term profit should never triumph over long-term ambition”.
“A season is a marathon not a sprint’. Well, so is a child’s physical development”.
“Children are often encouraged to specialise in one sport at an early age, in doing so they are deprived of the opportunity to expand their range of movement skills”.
“Those who specialise early when it is not essential have shorter careers in sport and a lower likelihood of going on to achieve success at a senior level”.
“Would you run 78 miles in training for a Marathon, then why run 5km in training for a 1.5km race?”
A printable copy with further information on the stages is available on request. Please contact Jeff or one of the committee.