LTAD – Let Them Be Kids First!
It is one thing to say that young athletes are not miniature adults and then to turn around and treat them as miniature adults by imposing adult training, competition and practice schedules on them. They are young and still developing and need to be treated as such. We need to get away from emphasizing where they will be, their future potential, there is time for that later, put the focus on where they are now and build upon that. Develop them so they have mastery of fundamental movements and fundamental sport skills acquired through play. De-emphasize the competition every weekend that starts an early trend toward peaking for Saturday, which then becomes a habit at latter stages of development and results in stifling long term development. We must allow for play that is free and unsupervised by adults. Play that allows the kids to be kids where they learn to explore the all dimensions of movement. The benefits are many and proven over time but simply do not fit into many of the contemporary models that seek to identify the athlete young and get them to specialize as early as possible to accumulate the necessary ten thousand hours to be a superstar. Combine that with the youth sport “Industry” and we have a huge problem in developing athletes. The athlete becomes a client in a business model not a child to be nurtured and encouraged. This has happened because we have deviated form a strong philosophical foundation of athlete development based on physical education, free play, principles of growth and development and emotional maturation.
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