Human development from birth to adulthood is a continuous process. Coaching children in underage sports needs to match their development, often characterised by a series of stages that make up the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, as adopted by Sport Ireland and the National Sports Governing Bodies.
Not matching skills development and activities to a child’s stage of development has serious negative consequences:
- Skills development is poor
- Over-emphasis on winning develops bad habits
- The child fails to reach their potential
- The child isn’t having fun
- The child burns out and drops out of sport.
This article aims to describe each Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD) stage and corresponding age group, and how SURPASSPORT supports those needs.
Medical Notes & ICE
Independent of the child’s age, Medical Notes as set by the parent and are ALWAYS available to every coach who has legitimate access to the child on SURPASSPORT, allowing their medical condition, if pertinent, including injury, to be highlighted and of course, the parent’s emergency (ICE) contact details are always to hand.
1. Nursery / Active Start
1 to 5 years
This stage is all about starting children off right. Making physical activity a fun part of daily life creates the right setting for your child to learn. Help them learn proper movement skills. Recognising proper movement skills isn’t always easy, but there are resources that can help.
Organise some physical activities — get a group of children and parents together and go to the park to let them explore the swings, slides, and monkey bars!
Let children explore their physical environment, but keep a watchful eye on them and keep the environment safe. Let them run, jump, climb, and swing — it’s important for their development.
This is a great time to get children into introductory gymnastics and swimming programs — not to create elite gymnasts or swimmers, but to provide wonderful learning opportunities in different environments.
5 to 8 years [girls]; 5 to 9 years [boys]
The FUNdamental phase should be well structured and fun! The emphasis is on the overall development of the child’s physical capacities and fundamental movement skills. The ABC’s of athleticism – agility, balance, coordination and speed are very important elements of this phase. Participation in as many sports as possible is encouraged. Speed, power and endurance are developed using basic and enjoyable games. Appropriate and correct running, jumping and throwing techniques are taught (the ABC’s of athletics).
This is also the stage when most children begin to attend formal sports coaching, typically at weekends.
SURPASSPORT makes it really easy to track Attendance. When a child is already registered for a team, a single touch or click is all it takes. And records are updated.
At this age, children still join up mid-season. No problem! The coach can capture the essential information there and then, including parent’s contact details, and parents can then complete the registration process while they’re waiting.
Children in this stage are encouraged to try many different sports. Naturally, some will clash, and some may fall by the wayside. it is, however, fair to say that weekends are a busy time for Parents, and coordinating trips and kids can be a challenge. SURPASSPORT unifies all activities and notifications into a single stream, for each parent, guardian, minder or grandparent, optionally integrated into their phone’s calendar, offering a little calm on an otherwise hectic weekend!
As sports introduce competition, arranging matches adds to the coach’s workload. SURPASSPORT manages the communications around fixture Availability, if the kid needs a lift, and of course, share the location of the pitches. Teams at these age groups are not fixed, and SURPASSPORT allows the panel to be split into two or more teams and record starting positions, to help ensure that all kids get exposed to playing in different positions.
While true at every age group, most clubs use this age group to start their coaches’ education. In addition to being able to share the workload, the club officers can record pathway and skills training courses undertaken by the coaches, helping both club and coach keep an eye on their own training.
A timely SURPASSPORT Maturation Assessment will help identify the onset of the first “window of accelerated adaptation to speed” or “critical period of speed development”, which typically occurs during this phase.
Continue reading Part 2 …