Long-Term Athlete Development and Youth Training

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Training options for youth athletes

Layne Performance offers private and group training for young athletes, and an Olympic weightlifting class specifically for kids (MWF 4-5pm). We are also offering advanced physical education classes to support kids who are homeschooling or attending online classes due to COVID-19.

Contact Layne Performance today for availability and to schedule an in-person or virtual assessment.*

What is long-term athlete development?

Long-term athlete development (LTAD) is the process of developing a child’s athletic potential from an early age. When properly implemented, LTAD results in better overall athletic performance, greater participation in sport, reduced injury rates, and higher activity levels throughout life. But what does LTAD look like in practical terms?

  1. Development of fundamental sports skills (~0-7 years old). Skills like sprinting, changing direction, jumping, and cutting are acquired through targeted instruction and games.
  2. Sampling sports (~0-7 years old). Children are encouraged to avoid specialization (participation in one or a few sports) to encourage development of a broad range of fundamental skills. Children are exposed to multiple sports through games and drills.
  3. Learning to train (~6-10 years old). In this stage, young athletes begin learning basic barbell technique and participate in some strength training. Skills are emphasized over weight on the bar. Infrequent competitions are introduced.
  4. Training to train (~10-15 years old). Athletes begin to emphasize development of strength and power through structured training. Competitions are gradually increased, but training and skill acquisition still take precedence.
  5. Training to compete (~13-18 years old). Training time is more evenly distributed between basic conditioning and competition preparation.
  6. Training to win (~17+ years old). Sports-specific fitness is maximized to produce optimal on-field performance. Frequent competition.
  7. Weightlifting for life (retirement from sport). Retain athletes at the recreational level so that they remain active throughout the lifespan.

Participation in the LTAD program at Layne Performance will put your child ahead of the competition and help them avoid injury. We develop fundamental sports skills that are rarely formerly taught. When is the last time you saw a coach work on the fundamentals of jumping? Yet jumping performance relies heavily on jumping technique. And those skills don’t just develop on their own.

Your child will also learn advanced barbell technique. Did you know that every collegiate and professional athlete develops their strength and power using weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk)? At Layne Performance, your child will get expert instruction and supervision as they learn the barbell. These skills will go a long way toward realizing your child’s dream of participating in sport at the collegiate and professional levels.

Get started today! Contact Dr. Andrew Layne for a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is resistance training safe for children?

A: Yes! When implemented as part of a supervised long-term athlete development plan, weight training has very low injury potential. Furthermore, weight training actually reduces the risk of acute and chronic injury from sports participation.

Q: Will weight training stunt my child’s growth?

A: No. The only mechanism through which weight training could stunt a child’s growth is through direct damage to a growth plate, located at the end your child’s long bones. Damage to the growth plate from weight training is exceedingly rare. And although also rare, your child is a greater risk for growth plate damage from participating in contact sports than from weight training.

Q: How young is too young to start an athlete development program?

A: The minimum age is mostly dependent upon the readiness of a child to participate. If they are able to maintain some focus on a task and are willing to listen and follow directions, they will likely benefit from participation. Young children will be taught through games and other activities, and more structure is introduced as the child matures.

Q: How does LTAD differ from typical conditioning?

As part of a long-term athlete development program, children are encouraged to try out and participate in multiple sports, i.e. avoid early specialization. Through sport participation, targeted learning activities, and modified games, we teach fundamental sports skills like running, jumping, cutting, changing direction, etc. Competition and specialization is minimized early in this process. Weight training is gradually introduced 1) 1) to help prepare the body for sport participation 2) to teach proper barbell technique, which will be utilized throughout your child’s athletic career and beyond, and 3) to teach your child how to train, both physically and mentally.

Contrast this approach to our typical model of youth sport participation, where basic sports skills are rarely taught or practiced, children are expected to specialize and compete early in the process, and preparation the sport season is accomplished through a small number of preseason practices. This often results in poor skill acquisition, burnout, and injury.

For more information, see the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s position stand on long-term athlete development, and this two-part review on long-term athlete development for youth.

Still have questions? Contact Dr. Andrew Layne for assistance.