Another great post inspired from Vern Gambetta.
Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is not a framework or a model it is a process.
It is very neat and convenient to attach labels to various stages of athlete development but that sends the wrong message. It is a process that is fluid and dynamic. It is a process that is highly influenced by growth and development in the early stages.
It all starts with developing a physically literate child well versed in the ABC’s of movement. It is so easy to forget that. Without the basis in fundamental movement skills all the development plans and subsequent stages are for not. Without physical literacy high-level sport skill can never be developed to its fullest capabilities.
It is imperative to take advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the so called “skill hungry” years, ages seven to eleven, This may not be teaching specific gymnastics sport skill but to teach fundamental movement skills even as basic as Running, Jumping & Throwing and its very permutations in a playful environment. This will start the process in a sound fundamental manner. It will give the youngster confidence and control of their bodies. It will enhance their ability to learn more specific sport skills AND it will make them less prone to injury later on.
That does not mean that sport skill is not taught rather it means that the fundamental movement skills lead and sport skills follow.
My rule of thumb is to keep the fundamental movement skill development ahead of the sport skill development by about two months (no science here, just observation and experience). Sport skill at the beginning level should be very basic and fundamental. Don’t be in a hurry, get them started on the right foot, let physical maturation, cognitive and emotional development be the guide. Remember it is a process. The 2016 Olympians are now approximately 12 years old – are they physically literate?