Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Individualized and Nonlinear Nature of the Growth and Development of Youth
Ryan Muñoz, B.S., M.S., C.S.C.S.
For this issue we’ll discuss the first pillar of LTAD: INDIVIDUALIZATION.
This states that LTAD pathways should accommodate the highly individualized and non-linear nature of the growth and development of youth. Upon looking at this further, it is simple and sweet.
The pillar and its application are fairly straightforward: Youth develop at highly different rates, both mentally and physically. It is our duty as practitioners to make sure these variations are accounted for and to make proper changes to training programs based on that information.
LTAD at MAD begins with the evaluation and screening process. Regardless of age, each MAD athlete provides a background and a health history prior to participating in any training. From there, we conduct an evaluation.
The evaluation varies in length depending on the athlete’s age. Younger neo level (under 12 years old) athletes participate in a less demanding evaluation than their older counterparts (high school and up). The evaluation results tell the story of the athlete’s body and provide MAD Staff with data to begin constructing a framework for the athlete’s program.
Following the initial evaluation, MAD coaches analyze the data and consider several other metrics in designing a personalized curriculum. An athlete’s training age (years of experience in the weight room), the time of the season, and the athlete’s sport specific goals all factor into the creation of each MAD athlete’s individualized curriculum.
For example, our training program for a middle school basketball athlete is much different than our training program for a high school football athlete.
After designing an individualized program, MAD establishes training parameters and has checks in place to make sure our athletes progress safely. The simplest of these being athlete tracking and progress reports. Athletes track their own exercises and resistance etc.
MAD coaches report these weekly to evaluate how much strength an athlete has gained over a week, month, season etc. This serves as a check to make sure athletes aren’t doing too much too quickly.
On the other hand, if an athlete is not making improvements over a sufficient amount of time, the coach can note this and talk with the athlete to make sure they are physically fine and/or make some changes to the training program.
Aside from daily program tracking, MAD utilizes athletic testing to assess the progress of athletes. This can be something as elaborate as a full, athletic, sport specific combine for an entire team, or something as simple as a monthly check on a vertical/broad jump or 10yd sprint time for an individual athlete. These assessments provide our coaches with valuable feedback on the adaptations a training program is eliciting in an athlete.
Again, we know all athletes will grow and progress at different rates. Constant monitoring of this information allows us to make changes to individual training programs so all of our athletes are healthy and performing at their best.