Long term strategies for youths.

Keeping it fun is important with younger athletes and often talented youngsters (10-16) are good at almost all events and sports in part due to developmental factors at what age do you think an athlete should specialize?

Do you encourage winter athletic training over training for other sports at a young age?
IMHO I prefer other sports up to around age 15 or 16 especially for the ultra competitive who place very high expecatations on themselves.

What about multi event competitions (penathlon, heptathlon etc) do you encourage some of the all rounders to consider those?

John…all great questions. You should be looking at some of the work of Istvan Balyi. Surpisingly, i have neven seen anything about him on the boards here, but in my opinion, he has some of the most progressive and intutive views on athlete development and long-term planning. His stuff is being used in Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia and a few other parts of the world, but the US really has yet to catch on to him. A handful of coaches “in the know” are using his plans here in the states to much success. If you haven’t read any of his stuff yet, i suggest you get your hands on some of his papers…you will find many answers there.

NZ??? I know someone tied up at a high level here so will see what she knows about him. In the meantime I will read these that isn’t to say I wouldn’t appreciate the general views of others here.

Balyi’s methods haven’t gained popularity in North America because of the emphasis on early specialization by most coaches and parents.

I just did a bunch of research for a Masters paper on this topic (I combined Bompa’s training recommendations into Balyi’s model). During research, I noticed that the model had been presented at many coaching clinics - most of them not in North America.

I find this especially amusing as he teaches at the University of Victoria in my province in Canada. It has been presented at a couple of coaching clinics here, and even been adopted by some sports organizations. However, because most coaches and parents believe the only way that their child will become a professional athlete is to concentrate on, and play only one sport year round - the model has been ignored.

I’ll echo a statement that has been made more than once before - early specialization is killing athletic development in North America.

can’t agree with you more svass…actually would like to see what you did with that paper of yours, sounds interesting. Istvan has done some work with a few organizations here in the states and as you mentioned, a few presentations also. A few places and people are using his model, but not enough.

When Al Vermeil was here he mentioned that a lot of injuries he sees in young people are overuse injuries. Specializing too much too soon will do this. Al is a big fan of playing both ways with football, not just offence or defense.

That makes 2 of us :smiley:

In regards to our status in the states, I favor the specialization to occur at junior year in High School.

This allows for the multi-faceted development of GPP for many years to include the participation in many sports.

Ultimately, children would be exposed to and participate in many sports from early childhood.

By the time junior year in high school rolls around the athlete can now specialize in the sport in which they most enjoy/are most talented at. This not only allows for the intensification of training for a specific task, but also the time for increasing the probability of scholarship eligibility based upon the hieghtened expression of physical attributes and sport skill level.

For example: nothing is worse than a college football prospect who plays basketball his senior year in high school and loses fifteen pounds of muscle mass due to the high aerobic component of basketball.

I am on the crusade to employ the PASM in the US.

From what I know of your schooling structure that would be 15 wouldn’t it?

16-17 generally.

Something to consider: One reason parents may find it daunting to allow their children to participate in a multitude of different sports is the sheer cost. Speaking with a parent recently, I mentioned the overuse injuries and the early specialization problem and he said that although he would like to have his children participate in more movement through different sporting endeavors he simply could not afford it hear in the U.S. Any thoughts?

I would have to say that i agree with you here…unfortunately, junior year may even be a bit to late when it comes to scholarship offers. In most bigtime college sports, coaches are looking at these kids as early as the 8th grade. Unless the kids are displaying some great athleticism, they may be missing out on a scholarship without the specialization in that particular sport. Sad, but true.

Cost and effort, we have 2 children, a boy 14 and a girl 11. A typical week excluding school would be

Mon, G to music, B to karate
Tues G to athletics, B softball practice
Wed ----
Thu G to pony club, B to softball game
Fri B to youth group
Sat G to athletics
Sun G to youth group

Add in ad hoc horse riding (we are fortunate to have room for my daughters pony) and homework :eek: In winter Tues is free & soccer practice is on Wed, and the softball is out for a 2nd karate session on Thurs.

I’m not complaining because ultimately it is our choice but yeah there is a cost and effort.

True, however, in view of my idealistic vision, the appropriate and optimal coaching (sport/strength) would be in place from early childhood. Accordingly, the level of athleticism would already be leaps and bounds ahead of the norm of today’s standards by the age of 16. This would translate into college coaches, from many different disciplines, all eyeing the same athletes, as the athletes by the age of 16 are excelling in more than one sport.

From the summer after the sophomore year to halfway through the summer following the senior year is a tremendous amount of time to hone special strengths/skills.

not a bad plan…would probably work well, but just how feasable is it in our sports society? and do you think it could apply to sports such as hockey and football? do you think there are sports where there should be some early specialization? Athletics in the US has dug themselves a hole so deep, they can’t even see the top. “More is better” will dictate athletics and continue to ruin kids for many years to come unless, somehow people see the light. Unfortunately, i do not see it happening anytime soon.

A very good source on this thread and possibly still available through Dr. Yessis are the early Soviet Sports Reviews. As I have been reviewing many of the issues from the mid 1960
's and later there are numerous articles on the training of youth. The following is an example:

“Stages of Training: Long-Term Preparation of Young Runners”, Legkaia Atletika, 8:13, 1977 G. Bukharina

 "The acceleration, noted in recent decades in the speeding up of "biological maturing" of young sportsmen, has served as one of the reasons for re-examining the age groups in which athletes compete with each other. 
 At the present time, serious sports training is attracting tall, healthy, sturdy boys and girls who possess better morpho-functional capabilities than their contemporaries.  The fast maturers also have a higher level of intellectual development and associated abilities.
 All of these factors have a definite effect on the process of developing high-class sportsmen.  According to data from complex pedagogical and medico-biological studies, athletes as young as 13 years of age have morphological and functional attributes that make it possible to use effective modern methods of sports training.
 This acceleration nevertheless has both positive and negative aspects in regard to the development of high-caliber athletes.  On the one hand, the athletic accomplishments of fast maturers are generally markedly higher than of their contemporaries.  On the other hand, it is precisely this fact that stirs many coaches to train young athletes according to adult standards--which often is the cause of functional breakdown and stagnation of sports results at a certain stage of training (19-20 years).
 Looking at the preparation of young athletes through the prism of "adult" concepts, most coaches specialize too much, restrict the means of training, and achieve high results at a youthful age, not providing a solid foundation of all-round physical preparedness.  
 A comparative analysis of the progress of Soviet and GDR athletes showed that the GDR athletes have a faster rate of progress of sports results.  The reason for the lag in rate of progress in USSR sportsmen is insufficient utilization of effective means and methods of training, aimed at development of the necessary physical qualities.  
 Repeated studies of the national junior team by the polydynamometry method have shown a significant lag in development of absolute and relative strength in the whole team in comparison with adult athletes.
 Analysis of the training loads executed by youngsters in all age groups (up to adult) showed that a significant number of the sprinters are extremely limited in their means of preparation.  They do not give sufficient attention to strength preparation, which facilitates an increase in the general level of physical development and growth of absolute and relative strength of the muscles bearing the main loads.  Although there is no great difference in the yearly volumes of running at different intensities between the GDR and USSR juniors, the difference in the number of hours devoted to general physical preparation is enormous. 
 According to data obtained from surveys, the beginning of the active training process for sprinters is around the age of 13-14 years.  However, in order to go from novice to master in 5-7 years, 13-14-year-old sportsmen need to have a good background of game playing and general physical preparation in school before taking up track and field training.
 The long-term prepartion of sprinters and the stages in the general scheme of the athlete's sports life are as follows:

Purpose–all-round physical education, mastery of a large repertoire of movements, fortification of health, “hardening” (overall strengthening), development of motor qualities: speed, strength, dexterity, endurance. Outdoor (movement) and sports games are utilized in this period, but they consume no more than 50% of total workout time.
In the yearly cycle, at least 36 weeks are preparatory and 12 are competitive.
At this age, youngsters have high work capcity. Founded on the preceding base of preparation, they continue to accomplish the task of all-round physical training. The ratio of means of general and special preparation is 70:30%. In the yearly cycle, 36 weeks are prepatory and 12 are competitive.
This is a transitional age–an age of active formation of the body, of increasing body weight. There must be careful dosing of the amount of strength training, an increase in hours of technical training, instruction and formation of technique. The main problems are development of character, striving for systematization in training sessions, preparation for high sports accomplishments. The ratio of means of general, special, and technical preparation is 50:25:25%. The number of preparatory weeks is 36-40; competitive weeks are 12.
The main tasks in the preparation of athletes at this age are: above all else, organization of their training process, adoption of a new life style in connection with finishing school and taking up new responsibilities (technical studies, work, etc.). Also important are nutrition and the body’s recovery from training loads. Preparation of sprinters is based on the principle of 2 cycles. Autumn-winter–23 weeks, spring-summer–29 weeks.
The main tensdencies here are as follows: further increase of training loads of the main training methods. The leading factor at the present time is the quality (intensity) of exercises, in relation to today’s volume of key training means. In the last 4 years, the volume of the top track men has increased 1.5 times, but the percentage of exercises executed at high intensity has increased 2 times. The main means of training are used concurrently and are distributed more evenly over the span of all periods and stages of training.
In preparatory periods, one includes more exercises for improvement of movement technique, for accomplishing stabilization of movement in the competitive period, for mastering faster movement from foundation of higher special physical preparation, for continuous improvement of rhythm. At this age, expanding the means of restoration is important along with increasing the training loads. Throughout the year, tapering-off phases should be provided for. At least 50 sessions should include swimming and gymnastics: there should be at least 40 steam baths, and from 80 to 100 general and therapeutic massages.
In the long-term preparation of young athletes, we should be striving for one main, special goal–sports improvement. The period of training during the youth years should be considered a preparatory stage, and the main purpose of this stage should be to create maximum prerequisites for sports progress later in life." :slight_smile:

If only Soviet Sports Reviews replaced the bullshit material pushed in North American acedemia.

This is where it’s at.

Very interesting, and note the number of massages- 1 every 3rd day for sub-adults and far more for the Elite Senior groups. How many in North America get that kind of treatment (my group did as I did it myself at first and later got professional help- that didn’t sound too good did it!) I knew from my own experience what therapy could mean. However, through this period of intense research, neither the Soviets or the East Germans got a handle on the need to allow for the development of the taller athletes, who, by definition would not meet the early objectives of the selection group. By the end of the Communist era, they were just figuring this out and selecting and keeping taller, later maturing athletes in their top training groups till they could perform at superior levels.
Please also note that top athletes used intense training elements concurrently throughout the year- not sequentially- what I would describe as Vertical Integration as opposed to classical periodization. Compare what you see described here to the discussion of the Jamaican program for Asafa Powell. what do you think will produce:
A: The highest annual exposure to specific event speeds.
B: The greatest ability to maintain peak velocities in the season.

I suppose you mean that Asafa -especially this year- lacks the vertical approach in his programme and therefore, the annual exposure to specific event speeds will be less (e.g., the current 400m races, etc); and as a conseqeunce the “B” above follows.
Am i right on this?

I can’t speak about Asafa’s training as I don’t knw anything about it- but I can ask in general about the benefits of what is described on the thread as a single periodization, Long to short plan.
1: Does starting at 400m and working down create more strength?
2:What is the relevance of speed so far below event speed?
3: Is his inability to hold his speed through the rounds to the final in Athens related to his training or was it only bad race tactics (which were clear beyond any arguement)
4: Is it of value to work at such distances while competing at the same time? (he didn’t this year but he did last year)