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Youth program designed to promote lifelong participation in sport and fitness

Long-term athlete development (LTAD) is a youth-centred approach to physical activity
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At Pursuit Athletic Centre (PAC), youth athletes are supported in their respective sports through a variety of development opportunities. The pre-adolescent years are the ideal time to introduce new and proper movement patterns that will create foundations for improved athleticism, regardless of the sport.

Long-term athlete development (LTAD) is a youth-centred approach to physical activity. It provides guidelines that promote and encourage participation, competency and, most importantly, fun for lifelong participation in sport and fitness. These guidelines identify critical periods of adaptation that take into consideration the developmental age, physical, emotional, social and psychological maturity of athletes.

"Understanding LTAD, especially in the early stages, is critical in athletes continuing to participate in physical activity long-term," says PAC co-founder and performance coach Wayne Burke. “In the first three stages of the LTAD model, the goal is fun, variety and participation coupled with mastering agility, balance and coordination. These are considered the “ABCs” of becoming physically literate by the age of 12.”

Stages of LTAD

Stage one

Active Start (Ages 0 - 6): The goal at this stage is to promote physical activity through play and providing fun and engaging opportunities. To encourage kids to make physical activity an exciting and essential component of their daily lives.

Stage two

Fundamentals (ages 6 – 9): During this stage, young athletes are introduced to agility, balance, coordination and speed (the so-called ABCs). Training goals include continuing to instill the importance of daily play and physical activity into everyday life.

Stage three

Learning to Train (ages 9 – 12): At this stage, athletes are reminded to continue enhancing the ABCs while developing their overall sports skills. They will also begin to integrate physical, mental, cognitive and emotional components within a well-structured program that promotes the development of physical literacy.

"Far too often, there is too much emphasis in youth sports on competing, winning, short-term goals and what's important to an older, more mature athlete. The focus should be on developing fundamental movements, adding variety and promoting exploration and fun,” explains Burke.

At PAC, youth athletes can participate in individual and/or team training. To learn more about youth athletic development programs, please visit the PAC website or call (519) 822-8939.