Programming for Youth in Sport

Parental involvement

It is often the case that the parent chooses his/her sport of choice and imposes it on the child. Some parents may have always wanted to play a particular sport and having failed to do so seek to have their children involved in it as a sort of surrogate for their own experiences. Sometimes, however, as the child grows older he/she makes his/her own choice of sport, much to the chagrin of the parent.

Coaches often tell stories of children communicating to them the wishes of their parents in terms of their sport of choice. The children often confide in coaches relative to seeking assistance in breaking free from the choices their parents wish to make on their behalf.

The time has come for full parental involvement in the child’s sporting development in much the same way as there is that involvement in the social and educational development process.

Coaches must forever strive to have parents understand what they are doing and how important a role they must play in the child’s love for and commitment to sport as well as facilitating a healthy balance between education and sporting activities.

Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD)

Studies undertaken by Istvan Balyi, among others in Canada, address the issue of the development of the child in sport, regardless of which discipline is involved. The emphasis is placed on ensuring that there is an understanding of the physical, biological, mental and emotional growth processes of each child involved in its sporting activities and that the children are placed in the programmes best suited to them at any given point in time. The programme is called, Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD).

According to the developers, LTAD is a seven-stage model of Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD), a training, competition, and recovery program based on developmental age — the maturation level of an individual — rather than chronological age. It is athlete-centred, coach driven, and administration, sport science, and sponsor supported. Athletes who progress through LTAD experience training and competition in programs that consider their biological and training ages in creating periodized plans specific to their development needs.