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LTAD Models and Filling the Talent Pool by Rick Howard

We are all “athletes”

Long term athletic development (LTAD) is a hot topic. I am excited to be part of two national initiatives to identify how best to implement a long term plan for children and youth in the US. I feel that LTAD is not the best name for a long-term plan to engage kids in a lifelong effort to not only play sports but also be physically active across the lifespan.  Being “athletic,” as it relates to having motor skill competence, self-efficacy of movement skills, and positive experiences in physical education, sports, and play are key indicators of continued participation in sports and physical activity. If athletic is properly defined, we can all agree that it is appropriate, but other terms such as participant, youth, or physical activity have been suggested. Some key contributors to the plan may be turned off by the term athletic, so it is critical to the success of an LTAD plan that all key players in youth sport, recreation, physical education, health, government and education agree on the terminology in order to work together to make an LTAD model a successfully implemented reality.

LTAD models and filling the Talent Pool

To fill the talent pool, we need to provide ALL kids multiple opportunities to participate in a wide variety of sports and physical activities. LTAD models create a generic guide that can be used to plan the long-term phases and progressions of any sport/activity. With our current over-emphasis on product (winning, competition, and early sport specialization) and our under-emphasis on process (learning fundamental motor skills and applying them in a variety of activities, based on where each child is on the developmental continuum) we clearly need a document to guide and educate coaches, parents, teachers and other persons of influence to do what is best for kids.

The cornerstone of an effective LTAD model is an early start (often between 6 and 8 years of age) on learning fundamental movement skills in a fun, interactive, and dynamic environment. Part of physical literacy is that powerful movement vocabulary must be taught before specific sports skills can be learned and applied. This is why it is so critical to have a certified movement professional, that is, quality physical education teacher, at the elementary level. Without successful adaptation within the critical preadolescent years, it becomes increasingly difficult to engage youngsters in physical activity and nearly impossible to coach them on the path to the master level of athletics when they reach adolescence.

The most popular model to date is the Canadian LTAD model (www.canadiansportforlife.ca).  The visual representation of their model looks like this:

The Canadian model established clear stages for developing physical literacy and is predominantly physiological in design (more so than social and psychological).  While it has an exit to their Active for Life stage it does not include re-entry points for physical activity throughout the year, which I feel is extremely important (see Ford: http://www.sportni.net/NR/rdonlyres/991FF96E-C6DB-4700-A900-F4DF2732E81A/0/ParticipantDevelopmentinSport.pdf for more information on this key topic). For example, when kids are pushed into early specialization in one sport and they end up not being as competitive as their peers by age 10 or 11, they have not only lost out on key periods of developing fundamental movement skills but also often find themselves without the skill set for other sports and activities and drop out entirely. Key Ingredients for a successful model, then, include identifying key participants, focusing on positive youth development, and incorporating both sports and play.

Challenges to Implementation

Establishing a national model for LTAD is imminent, but there are several reasons we cannot simply adopt a model already created:

  • US Sports model differs from other nations– we do not have a government run sport system and our school-based sports program is unique. Funding, equitable access, and partnering need to be addressed as appropriate to each sport program, community, and stakeholder.
  • Not every sport progresses in parallel and not every participant progresses at the same rate– many models follow a chronological age format with sports developmental levels based on age groups, which may not be the best way to set cutoffs and categories.
  • Requires paradigm shift from product to process– our culture is so ingrained with our “win at all cost, no matter what age” mentality that it is going to take a Herculean effort by everyone involved to change that mindset.
  • Need all shareholders to buy in for maximum implementation– there are many agencies, institutions, systems and individuals that must come together to provide a consistent message that positive youth physical, social, and psychological development is Priority #1.

I will keep you posted on my blog as we continue to develop the plan and work on the implementation strategy.

Playing lots of games without practicing is like taking lots of tests without studying (Learning)

 

(A related article I wrote for the National Strength and Conditioning Association can be found here:

http://www.nsca.com/ContentTemplates/PublicationArticleDetail.aspx?id=2147484713 )

Toward a Youth Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification to Fill the Talent Pool (Defining Quality Instruction) By: Rick Howard, M.Ed, CSCS, *D, USAW

The most popular blog to date. Still a huge topic of writing and conversation.

youth centered sports and fitness

The cornerstone for teaching and coaching youth properly designed, developmentally-appropriate strength and conditioning programming is quality instruction. Quality instruction is referred to in leading position statements and guidelines as a key component to safe and effective youth fitness, sports participation, and strength and conditioning programs. What defines quality instruction?

Top 10 Outcomes for Quality Instruction for Youth to Fill the Talent Pool

  1. Demonstrate a solid understanding of pediatric exercise science concepts and principles
  2.  Integrate factors along the developmental continuum, physically as well as psychosocially
  3. Appreciate the significance of simultaneously developing, refining, and mastering motor skills and muscle strength, as well as other contributory fitness attributes
  4. Recognize the important role of a long-term approach to talent development to fill the talent pool with as many youth as possible
  5. Implement key strategies for safety and practice design efficiency and effectiveness
  6. Apply the concept of periodization to program design
  7. Infuse coaching methods…

View original post 225 more words

Fitness Testing for Kids: What Exactly Should We Be Testing For?

Please see my latest blog, which was posted by Breaking Muscle!

http://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/fitness-testing-for-kids-what-exactly-should-we-be-testing-for

Obese Not the Only Ones Lacking Definition! by Rick Howard, M.Ed., CSCS, *D, USAW

It is no wonder we can’t solve the obesity epidemic, we can’t even agree on definitions surrounding the issue to know which way to go. Consider the recent decision by the American Medical Association to recognize obesity as a disease. Two challenges to the decision are:

  1. How do we define disease?, and
  2. How do we define obesity?

Is obesity a disease? A syndrome? A condition?  A disorder? Surprisingly, there is no universally accepted definition of disease which guides us in achieving health outcomes.

  • Will the one third of the population considered obese now be encouraged to utilize and possibly be reimbursed for preventative services?

OR

  • Will they rely on more medicine and expensive procedures?

How will we ultimately define obesity so that a large piece of the trillions of dollars in health care costs, reimbursement, and other passive costs that are dependent on the definition go to prevention (health care) and not medication and procedures (sick care)?

  • Will an integrated definition of obesity which considers lifestyle factors help people take personal responsibility for their health and assist others in their community?
  • Will the measure of obesity, body mass index (BMI), be accepted universally despite its limitations (which led the advisory group tasked with reporting on whether obesity should be a disease to say no, because of the issues with BMI)?
  • Will obesity in the context of other wellness factors be considered when seeking a shared definition?
  • Will obesity being classified as a disease impact other elements (social, psychological, etc.) of wellness for those affected?

Take a quick look at coincidental rising health care costs. In 2014, as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it is predicted that 22 million fewer uninsured people will help drive costs up by 7.9% (2.1 percentage points higher than in the absence of reform). And, many of the newly uninsured will be younger and relatively healthier than currently insured individuals, so spending is predicted to increase on prescription drugs and physician and clinical services more so than acute care.

Do you sense what I am sensing? By proclaiming obesity a disease, insurers will be forced to cover a new growth industry — obesity medications and surgeries. While some remain hopeful that making obesity a disease will influence physicians to counsel their patients toward healthy lifestyle changes, including proper nutrition and physical activity, according to an excellent blog by Dr. Allison Bowersock, “evidence suggests doctors do not have adequate time to discuss weight management with their patients and do not have adequate training to do so. Many doctors report a lack of confidence in providing exercise recommendations for patients unless they have experience with a regular exercise program.”

So, how are we going to get exercise included in mainstream medicine? How do we make headway to get insurers, physicians, and lay people to recognize the benefit potential of proactive prescriptive wellness over reactive treatments? Current insurance reimbursement does not cover exercise prescription, although physical activity is the fourth primary risk factor for chronic disease, children that do not get proper exercise as youngsters are less motivated to be active adults, and even relatively small lifestyle improvements in adulthood, including exercise, carry significant health benefits.

To spread the word and begin a national movement toward taking seriously the benefits of exercise, friends and colleagues have coined the term exercise deficit disorder. Questions that need to be addressed include:

  • Why isn’t physical inactivity treated with the same vigor as smoking?
  • How do we engage children and adolescents in fun and developmentally-appropriate physical activity?
  • How do we ensure that quality physical education and quality instruction in sports and physical activity is available to every child?
  • What is the role of the medical community in combating obesity and physical inactivity?

The next question, therefore, is how will we educate the masses about the powerful benefits of physical activity? Many believe that school is the answer. After all, school is where the vast majority of our children go from age 5 through 18. At school, they can be exposed to physical activity throughout the day, quality physical education every day, and health information to help make positive choices. Uh-oh! More problems with definitions…

  • Is any bodily movement that uses energy enough for engaging young children in activities for a lifetime?
  • What defines quality physical education—is it fitness test scores? Lifetime fitness activities (who decides these?)?
  • Is health and physical education considered a highly valued subject in school? Do educators and administrators recognize the value of physical activity on not only health and well-being but on self-esteem, attendance and behavior, and academic outcomes?

But consider that, even if students received physical education for the recommended 30 minutes per day in elementary school (150 minutes/week), and half of the time spent in PE should be moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, we still have two issues to resolve:

  1. We are still short 30-45 minutes of physical activity each day. Can this be filled with recess and activity breaks every day? What happens if students do not receive PE every day and/or all year?
  2. Who is leading physical education and physical activity? In many states, the classroom teacher in a self-contained classroom (the students do not change classes for subjects)”teaches” PE. This is the most critical age for learning motor skills, health fitness and skills fitness, and we rely often on teachers with little, if any, experience in this area. Would we do this for fundamental concepts in reading or math?

The decision to include obesity as a disease raises more questions than it provides answers. Even some of the answers available to us are wrought with lack of clear, consistent definitions.

Clearly, Cross-sector collaboration is considered necessary for building healthier communities. But we need to set clear definitions, roles, and qualifications for each partner in order to best achieve health outcomes. It is time for everyone involved in the health and well-being profession to work together to improve physical activity levels, reduce obesity levels, promote health literacy and physical literacy, and let’s get our definitions in line to fill the talent pool!

LTAD Models and Filling the Talent Pool by Rick Howard

We are all “athletes”

Long term athletic development (LTAD) is a hot topic. I am excited to be part of two national initiatives to identify how best to implement a long term plan for children and youth in the US. I feel that LTAD is not the best name for a long-term plan to engage kids in a lifelong effort to not only play sports but also be physically active across the lifespan.  Being “athletic,” as it relates to having motor skill competence, self-efficacy of movement skills, and positive experiences in physical education, sports, and play are key indicators of continued participation in sports and physical activity. If athletic is properly defined, we can all agree that it is appropriate, but other terms such as participant, youth, or physical activity have been suggested. Some key contributors to the plan may be turned off by the term athletic, so it is critical to the success of an LTAD plan that all key players in youth sport, recreation, physical education, health, government and education agree on the terminology in order to work together to make an LTAD model a successfully implemented reality.

LTAD models and filling the Talent Pool

To fill the talent pool, we need to provide ALL kids multiple opportunities to participate in a wide variety of sports and physical activities. LTAD models create a generic guide that can be used to plan the long-term phases and progressions of any sport/activity. With our current over-emphasis on product (winning, competition, and early sport specialization) and our under-emphasis on process (learning fundamental motor skills and applying them in a variety of activities, based on where each child is on the developmental continuum) we clearly need a document to guide and educate coaches, parents, teachers and other persons of influence to do what is best for kids.

The cornerstone of an effective LTAD model is an early start (often between 6 and 8 years of age) on learning fundamental movement skills in a fun, interactive, and dynamic environment. Part of physical literacy is that powerful movement vocabulary must be taught before specific sports skills can be learned and applied. This is why it is so critical to have a certified movement professional, that is, quality physical education teacher, at the elementary level. Without successful adaptation within the critical preadolescent years, it becomes increasingly difficult to engage youngsters in physical activity and nearly impossible to coach them on the path to the master level of athletics when they reach adolescence.

The most popular model to date is the Canadian LTAD model (www.canadiansportforlife.ca).  The visual representation of their model looks like this:

The Canadian model established clear stages for developing physical literacy and is predominantly physiological in design (more so than social and psychological).  While it has an exit to their Active for Life stage it does not include re-entry points for physical activity throughout the year, which I feel is extremely important (see Ford: http://www.sportni.net/NR/rdonlyres/991FF96E-C6DB-4700-A900-F4DF2732E81A/0/ParticipantDevelopmentinSport.pdf for more information on this key topic). For example, when kids are pushed into early specialization in one sport and they end up not being as competitive as their peers by age 10 or 11, they have not only lost out on key periods of developing fundamental movement skills but also often find themselves without the skill set for other sports and activities and drop out entirely. Key Ingredients for a successful model, then, include identifying key participants, focusing on positive youth development, and incorporating both sports and play.

Challenges to Implementation

Establishing a national model for LTAD is imminent, but there are several reasons we cannot simply adopt a model already created:

  • US Sports model differs from other nations– we do not have a government run sport system and our school-based sports program is unique. Funding, equitable access, and partnering need to be addressed as appropriate to each sport program, community, and stakeholder.
  • Not every sport progresses in parallel and not every participant progresses at the same rate– many models follow a chronological age format with sports developmental levels based on age groups, which may not be the best way to set cutoffs and categories.
  • Requires paradigm shift from product to process– our culture is so ingrained with our “win at all cost, no matter what age” mentality that it is going to take a Herculean effort by everyone involved to change that mindset.
  • Need all shareholders to buy in for maximum implementation– there are many agencies, institutions, systems and individuals that must come together to provide a consistent message that positive youth physical, social, and psychological development is Priority #1.

I will keep you posted on my blog as we continue to develop the plan and work on the implementation strategy.

Playing lots of games without practicing is like taking lots of tests without studying (Learning)

 

(A related article I wrote for the National Strength and Conditioning Association can be found here:

http://www.nsca.com/ContentTemplates/PublicationArticleDetail.aspx?id=2147484713 )

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