Long Term Athlete Development

As outlined in Our Philosophy RCTFC follows Athletics Canada Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model.

Why are we so focused on the LTAD model and what does it all really mean?

It is our hope that clear communication and explanation of this model will help to prevent misunderstandings between coaches, athletes, and parents. We want you to know how we are training your kids, and why we are doing what we are doing.

Athletics (track and field) is a late specialization sport. In contrast to sports like gymnastics, diving, and figure skating where athletes peak in their late teens to early twenties, most track athletes peak in their mid to late twenties. Many elite track athletes compete internationally well into their thirties. This is the reason that the training intensity and competitive focus of an 11 year old gymnast will be much different than that of an 11 year old track athlete. Premature specialization and over-training at a young age significantly increase the risk of injury and burnout.

As such, there will be (and should be) a marked difference between how we as coaches conduct a JD practice vs how we conduct a U16, U18, or U20 practice. This reflects only a difference in focus, not in effort or importance on our part.

We realize that most kids like to compete, and all kids like to win medals and ribbons. At the JD level however, this should not be our focus as a club, as coaches, as athletes, or as parents. RCTFC has always strived to focus more on personal bests and continual improvement, and we will continue to do so in the coming season.

At the JD level the emphasis is on the fundamentals. Building an athletic base and a love of sport that will hopefully last a lifetime. Fundamental movement patterns like running, jumping, throwing, and twisting need to be taught and practised to ensure proper posture and form. It is not, therefore, essential that JD athletes have event specific technical practices every single week for every event that they compete in. Improving overall speed, strength, power, coordination, and flexibility through drills, games, and relays does more to improve performance at the JD level than event specific technical practices day after day.

Even though your child may not be specifically long jumping or shot putting every week, we will be designing practices to ensure that they can attend meets well prepared while learning, growing, having fun, and improving throughout the season.

The LTAD model is a guide that we as coaches can use to help develop our training plans. By following this guide we hope to create stronger, happier, healthier athletes who enjoy the sport and excel as they progress through the age groups. Whether elite competition or fun and fitness is their goal, our goal is to develop fit, confident, lifetime athletes who can use their positive experiences in track and field to succeed in any current or future goals they set for themselves.