There are dozens of long-term athlete development models out there that try to explain the best way to turn youth athletes into champions. The problem is that they incorporate much more theory than practice. In reality, success cannot be broken down into one pathway or plan. On this episode of the podcast, leading youth coach James Marshall talks about how the systems fail us and what he’s doing to make youth athletics better in his community.
Notes and quotes
Marshall has been helping people achieve their fitness goals for more than 25 years and has been the Excelsior Athletic Development Club in Devon. He helped recreational athletes prior to working with professional sports teams such as London Welsh RFC and Exeter Chiefs, as well as National Governing Bodies like England Golf, England Rugby and numerous Olympians. He is also a faculty member at GAIN and is a leading expert on the theory and practice of long-term athlete development.
- 6:15 – Perspectives on LTAD: “When we look at an Olympian we create ego-centric back stories about why they are good and create systems around that. But the reality is more complex. At no point can you say that one thing led to the gold. “
- 10:15 – James background, how communities are changing, late developers and the influence of Paula Jardine.
- 15:15 – The fiction of LTAD models: “They have these cool diagrams that say at this age you are here and that age there and then appear on the podium. That’s fiction. “
- 17:15 – Combining gymnastics, weightlifting, and athletics at Excelsior.
- 19:00 – The problems with pathways: “There is not a single pathway for any type of human development; there are many equally valid ways to reach the same outcome. If you look at how top athletes get there, there are many ways since everybody is complex. Pathways look good on PDF, but not in reality. “
- 22:00 – How pathways create silos: “Who is driving youth sports? Is it the kids? Or the parent or national governing body? My LTAD model is a bit different since no one is making money from it. “
- 27:45 – LTAD in small countries and money: “If the money motive is not there, you start paying attention to if the kids are actually having fun and getting what they need. “
- 30:45 – Competing for talent.
- 36:15 – Finding better models for talent.
- 39:15 – Constraints led coaching and building your own developmental pyramid.
- 43:15 – Skin in the game and developing your own children’s foundation and plan.
- 47:15 – Athletic development courses and final thoughts.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- The GAINcast is brought to you by GAIN and HMMR Media. Applications for GAIN are now open and you can learn more here or at www.thegainnetwork.com including the schedule released last week. Also join HMMR Plus so that you don’t miss out and get full access to our video, article, and podcast archive here on HMMR Media.
- This month’s site theme is the young athlete. We’ll have more content coming up on this topic over the next few weeks, but we also have looked at it on past episodes of the GAINcast. On GAINcast 79 we explored talent development models. We’ve also looked at the concepts in practice with school sports (GAINcast 69 with Patrick McHugh), professional soccer (GAINcast 96 with Des Ryan) and skiing (GAINcast 114 with Finn Gunderson).
- Marshall has also been a guest on Episode 175 of the HMMR Podcast to talk about rediscovering the value of play.
- You can read Marshall’s blog and find more resources, including upcoming educational opportunities, on the Excelsior Group webpage. You can also find him on Twitter (@CoachExcelsior) and Instagram (@excelsioradclub).
- You can get an idea of what a session at Excelsior looks like in this recent video Marshall posted on Youtube.
- One book recommended on this podcast: The End of Average: Unlocking Our Potential by Embracing What Makes Us Different by Todd Rose