By Toby Brooks, PhD, ATC, CSCS, PES, YFS-3
With dwindling opportunities for physical education in cash-strapped school districts and increasing competition within both school-based and private or public sports leagues, parents hungry for assistance have generated a demand for private training services catered especially to young athletes. One such business, Athletic Revolution International, is a growing franchise based model with over 30 franchisees in 10 states. Unlike many other similarly targeted training businesses, the Athletic Revolution training system has been designed around the unique physical and psychological needs of developing athletes as they progress through a well defined developmental system as well as specializing in Sport Specialization for Young Athletes.
Instead of focusing on short term gains at the expense of long term sport enjoyment and performance benefits, Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) programming like that used at Athletic Revolution is designed to slowly and steadily develop motor skills and abilities over time, enhancing athlete enjoyment, ensuring healthy musculoskeletal balance and development, and gradually moving toward sport specialization only after an adequate athletic “base” has been established.
Sport Specialization for Young Athletes
The end result is an athlete who is happier, healthier, and ultimately more effective when the significance of sport participation begins to increase during the teen years.
IYCA founder Brian Grasso, a world renowned athletic development professional himself who has authored countless books and trained well over 20,000 young athletes around the globe, summarizes the philosophy of LTAD quite succinctly. “What a growing and maturing body needs in order to remain injury free and develop optimal athletic skill is variety. With respect to training, this amounts to NOT having a hyper-focus on making a young athlete a better football player by only doing exercises in the gym that the NFL players would do,” Grasso wrote. “The strongest and fastest athletes in any sport are the ones who had the greatest diversity of training while they were young.”
That said, parents and coaches are encouraged to analyze the sport exposures of the children under their care with a critical eye. While attempting to win the little league championship may seem like a wonderful goal, it should never come at the cost of what is best for the athlete’s long term development.
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