What is LTAD?

What is LTAD?

LTAD is Long Term Athletic Development. Long Term Athletic Development is a systemized pathway to develop athletes from birth to the Olympics. This was first created by Dr. Istvan Balyi. Dr Balyi was a Hungarian Olympic coach when he was approached to create this model to develop the best athletes for his country. This was a method that all the Olympic Coaches in the Eastern world used at the time of the USSR and Republic of China. Although no one ever wrote it down to be reused. Since Dr. Balyi’s publishing several countries have adopted this model. Canada is one of the best examples of this option because he helped write programs from birth to Olympics in 61 sports. Canada has now invested its money and its future in this model. Canada is not the only one jumping on this wagon. Australia, England, and many others know of its importance of creating the best athletes.

The Problem

Long Term Athletic Development basically dummy proofs athletic enhancement and creates an atmosphere of development that helps the athlete to be at peek performance at the right time. In the United States there is no such pathway for athletes and we generate athletes by sheer attrition. Some would say,”why would we as a dominant country have to change anything about athletics?” The answer lies within our youth athletes. Youth athletics is a billion dollar industry. We, the United States, have no governing body that creates plans to help develop our athletes in a healthy way.

  1. Injury Rates Have Increased 3-5% since 2007 on a yearly basis. There are over 5,000,000 injuries every year that are documented. 50% of these injuries can be prevented.
  2. The Competition to Practice and Skill Development is backwards. In the US, we play more games than we practice. Therefore the skill development in comparison of other athletes of the same level is way behind other countries.
  3. Attrition Rates- We lose 70% of the athletes by the time they are 13 years old.
  4. Physical Literacy in the US is getting worse. Young athletes don’t know how to skip, gallop, hop, throw, run, crawl, roll, and perform basic skills to build athletic development from.


Long Term Athletic Development basically dummy proofs athletic enhancement and creates an atmosphere of development that helps the athlete to be at peek performance at the right time. In the United States there is no such pathway for athletes and we generate athletes by sheer attrition. Some would say,”why would we as a dominant country have to change anything about athletics?” The answer lies within our youth athletes.


Many factors are involved in a LTAD Model. Developing the “total” athlete is what MVP Training is
about. Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction Time, Strength, Psychological, and Spiritual all
make up the total athlete.
• Speed- how fast an athlete is moving
Acceleration– how fast an athlete reaches maximal speed
Maximal Velocity– how long an athlete can maintain the maximal speed
Agility– how fast an athlete can decelerate and change directions
Reaction Time– the ability to read, recognize, and react to certain situations, objects, and phases of athletic performance
Power – Strength X Speed. The ability of an athlete to move and object with maximal velocity.
Strength– The ability to use force on an object to move. Often seen as a 1 Rep Max on Bench Press, Squat, or weight lifting.
Psychological Demands– the ability of an athlete to mentally and emotionally handle the demands of competition. Usually this stage isn’t needed till later on in the athletes competitive life.
Leadership Qualities– The ability of an athlete to work well with others and to make others around the athlete better collectively as a team that separated.
Emotional Demands– the ability to handle the pressures of games, attention, crowds, press, and even outside of athletics.
Spiritual Demands– The athlete is seen as figure of the community. It is very important for the athlete to know how to lead in a way to serve others with the athletic ability.
Character Traits– the total athlete must develop traits that teach responsibility, accountability, ownership, humbleness, faith, honesty, and a servant’s heart to be the complete athlete. There are various stages an athlete must go through to possess all these qualities. Below shows a model by the Journal of Sports Sciences the factors discussed in an age related timetable that an athlete’s normal progression will follow.

Tools for Coaching

1. Embrace Repetition­ Quality Repeitions are Very important. The most quality is when the athlete works alone.
2. Have a Blue Collar Mind Set­ Its no secret that the best usually work the hardest.
3. Slow the skill down­slow it down so much that you can feel every
4. Close your eyes­ It puts the athlete in tune with movement and makes the athlete more aware of how they move.
5. Test and assess on a regular basis no matter what stage of development the athlete is in.

4 Reasons Why Competition Slows Skill Development

1. The presence of other people diminishes the appetite for risk (reaching which is needed to improve) success rate should be around 50­-60%
2. Games reduce the number of quality reps
3. Games distort priorities and encourage shortcuts in technique
4. Game encourage coaches parents and players to judge success by the scoreboard. Many countries don’t allow competition until they are at the Train to Train Stage.

Tips to help skill development during games

  • Don’t take the regular stats­ Have stats that reinforce the skills that were practiced-Example­ Quality cuts, extra efforts, and leadership or teamwork.
  • Have process goals NOT outcome goals (wins and losses should NOT be a stat that is encouraged)
  • Use the games as a practice. Focus on athletic stance, teamwork, positive attitudes, and overcoming adversity. Find things that they enjoy and include it in the games.

The 6 Stages of the LTAD Model

  1. Active Start– Ages 0-5 years old. Learning to crawl and coordinate feet and hands to improve balance. Exploring and creating are important at this stage.
  2. Fundamental– Ages 6-9 years old. The FIRST window of trainability is now. Learning to run, skip, crawl, roll, gallop, throw, kick and swim are all important. This is the foundation for the athletic development.
  3. Learning to Train– Ages 10-13 years old. An ahtlete learns to bend, move, and get better at the skills developed in the Fundamental Stages. Speed development is important.
  4. Training to Train– Ages 13-16 years old. The US loses 70% of the athletes at this stage. What is the #1 cause of it? Its NOT fun anymore. We have taken their enjoyment. We have tried to make professionals at the age of 13. NOTE- 70% of the Elite and Professional athletes are LATE bloomers!!! How many athletes are we shoving out?
  5. Training to Compete– Ages 16-19 years old. Athletes learn to compete. The practice: competition ratio is even. More games and strategy are introduced for the competition.
  6. Training to Win– The elite stages of athletic performance. Less than 1% of athletes

Tips for Coaching

  • Testing- Without testing an athlete won’t know the strengths and weaknesses. Testing is a priority. Physical, mental, and psychological testing are needed to help diagnose strengths and weaknesses of athletes.
  • Growth Factors- how quickly the athlete grows physically, emotionally, and spiritually are all factors that can help speed or slow the process.
  • The 10,000-hour rule- The 10,000 hour rule, 10 years of training orpracticing are all factors that can help. This rule is a deceiving rule for many. Thekey of the 10,000-hour rule is the amount of QUALITY hours of training. Without great coaching and parents this rule can be misrepresented. See Rule 1.
  • The 5:1 Rule- For every hour of competition there must be a minimum of 5 hours of practice and training. This rule varies depending on what stage of training the athlete is in. For example, if the athlete is in “Learning toTrain” stage the ratio will be closer to 10:1. In the Training to Train stage the ratio is more in the area of 7:1. The ratio continues to get closer to the 5:1 Ratio as the athlete progresses through each stage.
  • Training the 5’s- Is based on assessment and diagnosis of progression of stages which will determine the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • FUNdamental- the first of the fives, is making the athletic event fun while learning the basics of the sport and athletic skill. The athlete should not be involved in competitions unless is solely for entertainment.
  • Learning to Train- is the time of the athletic life that the athlete learns what makes athletic skill and is based mainly on chronological age.

 How can TSP help?