Long Term Athlete Development Plan

Scientific research has shown that it takes at least 10 years, or 10,000 hours, for talented athletes to achieve sporting excellence.

There are two ways in which young swimmers can improve their performance:

  • Training
  • Growth & development

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a sports development framework that is based on human growth and development. In short, it is about adopting an athlete-centred approach aimed at achieving optimal training, competition and recovery throughout an athlete‚Äôs career, particularly in relation to the important growth and development years of a young person’s life.

All young people follow the same general pattern of growth from infancy through adolescence, but there are significant individual differences in both the timing and magnitude of the changes that take place.

A number of scientists have reported that there are critical periods in the life of a young person in which the effects of training can be maximised. This has led to the notion that young people should be exposed to specific types of training during periods of rapid growth and that the types of training should change according to individual patterns of growth.

These findings have been used by Dr Istvan Balyi to devise a five stage LTAD framework that has been adapted to swimming:

  • FUNdamental – basic movement literacy (female 5-8yrs, male 6-9yrs)
  • SwimSkills – building technique (female 8-11yrs, male 9-12yrs)
  • Training to train – building the engine (female 11-16 years, male 12-15yrs)
  • Training to compete – optimising the engine (female 14-16yrs, male 15-18yrs)
  • Training to win – maximising the engine (female 16+yrs, male 18+yrs)

For more information please refer to the Shorter Guide to the Long Term Athlete Development Programme on the British Swimming website www.britishswimming.org or ask a committee member for a hard copy.