LTAD (Long-Term Athlete Development)

Talisman Centre's 30-year history and strong brand as a world-class training and competition facility is now strengthened by an alignment with the Long-Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) developed by Canadian Sport for Life.

In a continued effort to help Members and Sport Partners improve performance, build consistently stronger programs and services year after year and help build successful athletes – the LTAD framework presented us with the most progressive pathway to optimize this.

LTAD will help guide us in the following:

  • The method to advance our organization's strategic direction with the transformation of key aspects of our sport services including competitions, facilities, coaching and leadership.
  • How we can proactively retain our athletes by improving their skill development according to recognized states and processes in human physical, mental, emotional, and cognitive maturation.
  • How we can provide effective and rewarding programs as well as physical literacy for life-long participation in physical activity and podium performances.
  • In what way we can truly customize our programs and services to meet the needs of our Members, Sport Partners and specialized user groups at specific stages of their development.
  • What programs should be developed to encourage athletes at any age or skill level to participate in sports.

What is Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L)?

CS4L-logoCanadian Sport for Life (CS4L) is a movement to align the education, health, sport and recreation sectors to support the health of the nation and put more athletes on the podium.

What is Long-Term Athlete Development?

Long–Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a structured pathway that follows CS4L principles to optimize the development of our athletes at all ages and stages of their development. LTAD is a training, competition and recovery pathway based on developmental age–the maturational level of an individual – rather than chronological age.

To promote each child's healthy and logical development in a sport or physical activity, LTAD identifies sequential stages for training and competition that respects their physical, mental, and emotional development. This approach encourages lifelong physical activity for athletes of all levels of ability, and it also provides an effective route for athletes to pursue excellence at the national and international level of competition.

The number of stages differs slightly between early specialization and late specialization sports, and early specialization sports have especially unique requirements that affect the definition of their LTAD stages. The basic seven-stage LTAD pathway for the majority of sports (late specialization) is described below.

1. Active Start

Children need to be introduced to relatively unstructured play that incorporates a variety of body movements. An early active start enhances development of brain function, coordination, social skills, gross motor skills, emotions, leadership, and imagination. It also helps children build confidence, develop posture and balance, build strong bones and muscles, promote healthy weight, reduce stress, improve sleep, learn to move skillfully, and learn to enjoy being active.

2. FUNdamentals

Children need to participate in a variety of well-structured activities that develop basic skills. However, activities and programs need to maintain a focus on fun, and formal competition should only be minimally introduced.

3. Learning to Train

When the athlete is ready to begin training according to more formalized methods, but the emphasis is still on general sports skills suitable to a number of activities. While it is often tempting to over-develop "talent" through excessive single sport training and competition (as well as early positioning in team sports), this can be very detrimental to later stages of development if the athlete is playing a late specialization sport: it promotes one-sided physical, technical, and tactical development and increases the likelihood of injury and burnout.

4. Training to Train

At this stage, athletes are ready to consolidate their basic sport-specific skills and tactics. They may play to win and do their best, but they still need to focus more time on skill training and physical development over competition. This approach is critical to the development of top performers and maintaining activity in the long-term, so parents or athletes should check with their national organization to ensure their program has the correct training-to-competition ratio.

5. Training to Compete

This is where things get "serious." Athletes can either choose to specialize in one sport and pursue a competitive stream, or they can continue participating at a recreational level and thereby enter the Active for Life stage (see 7 below). In the competitive stream, high volume and high intensity training begins to occur year-round.

6. Training to Win

Elite athletes with identified talent enter a stage where they may pursue the most intense training suitable for international winning performances. At this stage, both world-class athletes with a disability and able-bodied athletes require world-class training methods, equipment, and facilities that meet the demands of the sport and the athlete.

7. Active for Life

Young athletes can enter this stage at essentially any age. According to LTAD, if children have been correctly introduced to activity and sport through Active Start, FUNdamentals and Learning to Train programs, they will have the necessary motor skills and confidence (physical literacy) to remain Active for Life in virtually any sport they like. They may decide to continue playing their sport at the recreational level, or they may become involved in the sport as a game official or coach. They might also try new sports and activities: examples could be a hockey player taking up golf or a tennis player starting to cycle.

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