By Mark V. Lonsdale, Shaft Shooters Archery
Built on scientific studies and widely used in international coaching circles, Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is driven by the logic that sports training and coaching must be appropriate for the age and development of the student or athlete. Even though individual development is a variable, and there are recognized differences in development between boys and girls, within LTAD there are seven fundamental stages with recommended age ranges for each level.
- Active Start (Under 6 years) focused on introducing the kids to safety, active play, and basic ABCs – Agility, Balance, & Coordination
- FUNdamentals (6-9 years) where the goal is to make learning and practice fun and to light the fire for future training
- Learn to Train (8-12 years) where participants and junior athletes begin setting goals and working to achieve them
- Train to Train (11-16 years) is the next step from learning and practicing to actually committing to a training program
- Train to Compete (15-23 years) where the instructor moves into coach mode to help participants develop into committed athletes and successful competitors
- Train to Win (18+ years) where the training focuses on specific competitions and events
- Active for Life (any age) specifically for Masters where they are encouraged to stay active in club and competitive events
Within these seven stages there are also other training objectives such as Playing to Learn, Learning to Play, or Training to Excel, but the primary goal is to match the training and sports development to the developmental age and interests of the participant. At the same time the instructor-coach is working closely with the individual to make their sports experience enjoyable, worthwhile, and challenging. To help achieve these goals, coaches must constantly work to improve their coaching skills and their understanding of child development and athlete development. But more importantly, they need to know the goals of their participants, students, and athletes.