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Youth Multilateral Sport Development: The Child & Junior Athlete Path to Success
Periodization Programs for High Performance Sport Achievement


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Multilateral Sport Development: Athletic Development Phase

     During that period of development 11 to 14 years of age, children will experiment at various levels and with great disparities among them, noticeable periods of growth spurts. It is the phase of puberty. These spurts will have the capacity to slow down some motor skills and coordination improvement, but there is some positive: the growth spurts are a great time to develop the aerobic endurance capacities of the kids. At this stage, there will be a difference in development between boys and girls as hormonal changes will generate an increase of the muscle mass with the boys. Coaches and parents must also be aware of the potential differences in maturity development within the same group age. There will be children reaching puberty at normal time and going steadily through the phase, others will mature earlier or later, which will have a developmental incidence with their peers in the same age group.

     It has been noticed that late maturers will present less concerns than early maturers for sport development. Early maturers will reach a physical and technical potential earlier than their peers, hence being more prone to self-contempt, loss of motivation and dropout. Against all odds early maturers will need more attention from coaches and parents than late maturers who will simply have to be reminded that they are on track. Late maturers are actually seen as better high performance prospects than early maturers.

     Program development should still emphasize the participation in numerous sports, although the kids at that stage can practice 1 or 2 sports of their choice with more devotion. Bodies are developing well, volume and intensity of training can be slightly increased compared to the Initiation Development Phase. Towards the end of this phase, the young athletes will develop a much better tolerance to lactic acid.

     Still the emphasis should be on improving flexibility, coordination and balance. They should have acquired an automation of the basic motor skills they developed in the Initiation Phase and more complex skills can be introduced. It is a great time to develop the aerobic capacity of the children through various games and fun drills, circuits and relays. Athletes could also be introduced to more anaerobic exercises specifically with sprinting, throwing and general strength/power drills (with body weight first and around 13 years of age an initiation to weight training emphasizing technique, form, with light empty barbells, heavier medicine balls and very light weights).

     On that ground, strength development should focus on core body development such as trunk, hips, lower back, abdomen, then moving progressively towards the extremities: arms and legs. This approach is designed to strengthen tendons and ligaments to further support strength and power training at higher volumes and intensities. It is also useful in the development of the proper technique for further strength and power development in later stages.

     Our programs will integrate all these considerations to optimize young athletes development and ensure a fine transition towards de Specialization Phase...

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Sport Development International, 2007, 2008