By: Mindi Boysen
The LTAD approach is "the life-long athletic performance development model," which has been adopted by many countries and organizations, including the Titleist Performance Institute and USA Hockey, and "focuses on having kids perform age-appropriate skill acquisition drills to maximize athletic potential. It gets progressively more specialized as the athlete develops and reaches the next level of development." Tudor Bompa stated "From early childhood to maturation, people go through several stages of development, which include pre-puberty, puberty, post-puberty and maturation. For each development stage, there is a corresponding phase of athletic training."
So what exactly are these "age-appropriate acquisition drills"? To answer that we need to look at what Titleist calls "Physical Literacy." Physical Literacy is the "development of fundamental movement skills FMS) and fundamental sport skills FSS) which allow a child to move confidently and efficiently in a wide range of physical activities. A child should be physically literate by the onset of the growth spurt." For girls, peak height velocity averages 12 years old and for boys, it's 14.
First, let's look at fundamental movement skills. They are general patterns of movement that combine two or more body segments and according to Dr. Vern Seefeldt, director of the Youth Sports Institute at Michigan State, they are the "basic vocabulary of sport."FMS are broken up into four categories:
After a solid base of FMS, kids can transition into fundamental sport skills, which are basically skills that are more specific to the tasks of that sport, with much more complex movements. Skipping over the fundamental movement skills and jumping too quickly into fundamental sport skills Early Specialization) can rob a kid of the proper development. "A child who develops a better base of FMS will develop sport skills at a faster rate and peak at a higher level of expertise." It's building the foundation before the rest of the house.