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Long Term Athletic Development

Posted by Jeffrey Pape on

What are your thoughts about this program?

Here is a link to check out along with several others you should click on if you are interested. Click on Active Start, Fundamentals, Learn to Train, Train to Train and Active for Life.

I think it's a great model - have you found anything like this based in the USA?

Below is the content from the Active Start Section - I think it's worth checking out if you are a coach or a parent interested in your kids performance on and off the field. I know with my kids we have taken this relaxed approach to their athletic development. We want them to participate in high school and collegiate athletics if they are interested (e.g. I don't want to burn them out on tee ball or youth wrestling!).

Active Start
Ages 0 - 6

From ages 0-6 years, children need to be introduced to relatively unstructured play that incorporates a variety of body movements. An early active start enhances development of brain function, coordination, social skills, gross motor skills, emotions, leadership, and imagination. It also helps children build confidence, develop posture and balance, build strong bones and muscles, promote healthy weight, reduce stress, improve sleep, learn to move skillfully, and learn to enjoy being active.

Objectives: Learn fundamental movements and link them together into play.

Physical activity is essential for healthy child development during the critical first six years of life, and is especially important during the first three years since brain growth is extremely rapid, and learning creates more brain cell connections than in later years (Gruhn, 2002). Among its other benefits, physical activity during this time:

* Lays the foundation for future success in skill development, by helping children enjoy being active, learning to move efficiently, and improving coordination and balance.
* Creates neural connections across multiple pathways in the brain (Council of Physical Education for Children, 2000) particularly when rhythmic activities are used.
* Enhances development of brain function, coordination, social skills, gross motor skills, emotional development, leadership and imagination. Helps children to build confidence and develop positive self-esteem.
* Helps builds strong bones and muscles, improves flexibility, develops good posture, improves fitness, promotes a health body weight, reduces stress and improves sleep.

Things to think about:

At this age, physical activity should always be fun, and part of the child’s daily life, not something they are required to do. Active play in a safe and challenging environment is the best way to keep children physically active.

Organized physical activity and active play are particularly important for the healthy development of children with a disability if they are to acquire habits of lifelong activity. Because this is a period when children with a disability rapidly outgrow their mobility aids, communities need to find effective ways – for example, equipment swaps or rentals– to ensure that all children have access to the equipment they need to be active.

Children with sensory disabilities (visual impairment or hearing loss) often require more repetitions to learn movement skills, and different ways of getting information from the instructor. To find out more, contact your local organization providing support for persons with the specific disability.

Physical Literacy Activities

Encourage the child to run – not just in a straight line, but with stops and starts and changes in direction. Tag and chasing games are excellent.

Play catching games with the child. Use a wide range of soft objects, and balls of different sizes. Start with catching a large ball with two hands, and progress towards smaller balls and eventually one handed catching. Remember - Balls that don’t bounce too much are great for learning, as are bean-bags.

* Play games making body shapes – upside down and right-side up. Pretend to slither like a snake, and roll like a rolling pin on the floor, or down a small grassy slope.
* Play throwing games – and start with soft objects that the child can hold easily in his or her hand. Try to get the child to throw at a target, and sometime to throw as hard as they can. Get them to use both the left and right hand when they throw.
* For quiet times, or when in small spaces, play balancing games. Stand on one foot and then try the other – try balancing on different body parts, and try walking along any painted lines on the ground.
* Jump, make shapes in the air, jump to see how high the child can go, or how far. Make imaginary “rivers” and get the child to jump from one bank to the other. Try jumping from one foot, or from both. Make sure the child bends at the knees when they land.
* Introduce children to water activities and learn to swim programs. Get them on skates or skis and out on the ice or snow so that they learn to slide.
* Ride a tricycle, or a bike – with or without training wheels to develop dynamic balance.