Long Term Player Development
sportscotland are proponents of Istvan Balyi’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, which is known as Long Term Player Development (LTPD) in Scotland. During late childhood and adolescence, children of the same chronological age may be up to five years apart developmentally and as a result need very different training programmes. By ensuring that their training, competition and recovery programmes are appropriate to their stage of physical and psychological development, LTPD aims to optimize an individual’s potential to succeed in sport and ultimately keep them active for life.
Gymnastics is a foundation sport for ALL sports. Gymnastics contribution to the Fundamentals aspects of the LTPD pathway, which is summarised in the British Gymnastics FUNdamentals brochure, is now recognized by many other sports and organizations. Children who participate regularly in gymnastics get a head start in whatever sport they progress on to as it helps to develop muscular strength, flexibility, balance and co-ordination. These attributes (or basic body management skills) build confidence and encourage children towards healthy, physically active lifestyles.
A talent identification study conducted for sportscotland in 2004 also found that children who participated in gymnastics or dance before they become involved in other sports develop new skills quickly. To complement existing gymnastics programmes, a new fundamentals programme is being developed to enable the key elements of gymnastics to support all sports and provide further training to enhance the quality of coaching across sport.
To help coaches deliver gymnastics in a progressive way, a number of LTPD-aligned proficiency badge schemes for both elite and recreational gymnasts are available. Progression through the various levels of awards sets goals for the gymnasts to achieve and rewards their achievements. The schemes assist coaches in creating structured and progressively challenging training and help to keep gymnasts motivated and goal orientated.
The development of gymnasts on the gymnastics performance pathway also benefits from the implementation of LTPD principles. LTPD encourages coaches to prioritise long-term objectives over short-term results – gymnasts learn the basic skills to a very high standard before progressing to higher levels of difficulty. Winning competitions is not the primary focus in the early and middle stages of a gymnast’s career. Gymnasts who progress difficulty at the expense of perfecting technique, may achieve good results early on, but poor technique will ultimately limit their ability to progress in the sport and may put them at increased risk of injury. Too much emphasis on competition and on winning too early in a gymnast’s career may also encourage them to drop out of the sport as they may feel under increasing pressure at a stage where they should be having fun.