During my short time at the Garden, there has been a regular question from parents and I thought a blog post might be a great way to aid understanding with in the Dragons community and hopefully enlighten other dedicated parents as to the challenges of parenting a talented sports person.
The key phrase is ‘Long Term Athlete Development’, one of the most important components of junior sport and one which often gets glossed over in the drive and will to win as early as possible.
LTAD is a framework designed to guide coaches and parents in the training needs of a child and help them understand the correct training necessary to ‘succeed in sport’
Success Vs. Burn Out
Success in sport can come at a cost. Huge hours of input, huge family sacrifices, all in the chase of becoming a world champion or olympic champion. So the easy answer would be- train more, train harder and win. Unfortunately sport is more complex than that, and specifically a child’s bodies physical development.
How hard and how early to ‘push’
I, and every other PE teacher/sports coach in the world has seen the wonder child who at 9 years old is breaking every record and winning every medal. The reality is however, that most child prodigies come up short. Their persuit of winning and competitive gain, takes away from valuable learning of skills and physical maturation which eventually leads to a plateau. This will usually be the end of their career as others who honed their skills during their junior career, will now be feeding off of the benefits of their more complete early stages development.
A coach must understand this in order to guide the child and their parents. Each child must learn and train through each stage of LTAD in order to fully develop and be successful in the future.
So prove it…?
Michael Jamieson, Olympic Medallist and the poster boy for the recent Glasgow Commonwealth games highlights football as his main focus up until the age of 12, it was at this point which he decided to choose swimming as his desired sport and put more of his time into it. He has gone onto become one of the most technically exceptional breastrokers in the world, winning medals at almost every major competition since 2012.
So guide me…
9 years old- trained 3 to 4 times per week.
12 years old- trained 6 to 7 times per week.
15 years plus- trained 7+ times per week.
The moral of this story is simple, training more can be good, training too much can be bad. Training smart is vital.