With this new role now in full swing at Eastbourne College, I've been thinking a lot into how to best develop the kids to help them grow as athletes.
I'm hoping that this role will continue to grow, and that in time it will become full-time and I will have the opportunity to put a Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) plan into place to progress students through from Year 9 through to Year 13.
Now this is nothing new, and what I'm going to speak about with my plan will also be nothing out of the ordinary, but I wanted to put pen to paper (well ... fingers to keyboard) to detail what's going through my head.
Currently I get 1 hour a week with the individual sports scholars, and I also have my own S&C section of Games sessions, where I am currently working largely with Rugby but this will change after Christmas.
I am planning to stick to what a lot of people use for LTAD:
Age 6 to 10 - FUNdamentals
Age 10 to 15 - Training to train
Age 15 to 18 - Training to compete
Age 18+ - Training to WIN
Now I will only be working with students from the age of 13 to 18, so the FUNdamentals and Training to Win will not be part of my remit, but I aim to push the Training to Compete relatively hard because I will exposure to the kids twice a week; scholar and games sessions.
The reason for wanting to stick to this plan is that I am a firm believer against early specialisation. For a child to be able to fully develop in a sporting sense, they should be exposed to plenty of different training stimuli, and with that have the opportunity to grasp things from several different training situations.
A balance of invasion games versus non-invasion games for example can give a very big benefit to how an athlete may be able to view things once they finally settle on a sport.
It also means that they are much less likely to fall into the trap of over-use injuries; which are becoming an increasing problem.
Early-specialisation is thankfully being recognised as a problem, so much so that some major Colleges in America will not take athletes on Scholarship if they have only played one sport for more than one year.
Outside of this, I plan to develop it further by putting in a layering system, or block system, for how to take students through from arrival at age 13, to leaving at 18. The aim is that during their sixth form years (16-18) they are largely able to take charge of their own training; I will still do the programming, but they should by that point have an understanding of what it all means and why they are doing it.
By age 18 I want for them to move on to wherever they head next, University for example, and have a very solid foundation of strength and conditioning to be able to build upon and give them the best chance for sporting success as they develop further towards their prime years as athletes.
Now I haven't completely finalised my plans for the layering/block system, but it essentially build upon itself term after term.
Year 9 Term 1 - Movement fundamentals
Year 9 Term 2 - Developing strength through movement
Year 9 Term 3 - Developing power through movement
Nothing groundbreaking, like I said at the start, but it's a step in the right direction for a school which has the opportunity to develop some fantastic athletes if taken through an athletic training process.
So, this summarises the kind of plan that I am hoping to put into place and shows, in some way, the kind of steps that it would have as part of it.
Taking an athlete from Point A to B is massively important as part of this, not just trying to skip ahead to Point Z! If they can't move properly, then why add external stress to a poor movement pattern?
I hope this makes some sense.
Feel free to contact me or leave any comments/thoughts.
Thanks for reading.