LTAD: Training to compete

    This is the third of several articles that examine the various stages of the LTAD model. The Train to Train stage was covered in a previous article.

    As athletes become proficient at the Train to Compete stage of the LTAD model several substantive changes are taking place in their development. Training time increases and athletes are involved in year-round situations and competing in higher level contests near or at the national level. The focus of training is on the highest level of participation available, usually international competition, and all training elements lead in that direction.

    The long-term athlete development model (LTAD) features progressively comprehensive training and increased challenges as athletes become more involved in the process. What starts out as an introduction to physical activity gradually changes into a single-minded pursuit of excellence at the training to compete level. One can see where a focus on this intense outcome would be inappropriate at lower levels of development, however, at the Train to Compete stage the intensified focus is wholly appropriate for the athletes skills and aspirations.

    Characteristics of the train to compete stage

    Athletes are encouraged to focus on a single sport or sports that complement each other - Multi-sport participation is encouraged at lower levels of the LTAD model but by the time one reaches the train to compete stage all efforts should lead in a single direction. By this time a single sport that the athlete is both proficient in and enjoys should have become apparent and is the activity that should be pursued to the highest level. In some cases athletes are able to continue a focus on complementary activities, wrestling and weight lifting for example, until a single focus is needed by training and competitive demands.

    Learn to perform increasingly complex skills in intensely competitive environments - As the name of this stage suggests competing is a skill that needs to be learned and trained for. With a solid foundation of skill and training from previous LTAD stages the athlete is now ready to focus on improving competitive performance. Adapting to varying competitive conditions is an important part of this stage.

    Athletes commit to both their training and performance - The athlete is almost full-time involved in athletic preparation. In some countries they may be at the professional level but for many they are in a group of elite performers the size of which depends on the size and quality of developmental programs in their sport.

    Athletes train with quality resources, trainers, and other high performers - It almost goes without saying that to perform well in this stage athletes need access to facilities, coaches, and support services to maintain their training and performance.

    Implementation of the LTAD framework

    Canadian Sport for Life, the developers and original proponents of the LTAD framework, refer to the train to compete stage as 'optimizing the engine' expanding on the 'building the engine' theme from the train to train stage. Athletes do this not only through physical training but also through mental and emotional strategies as well. As part of the LTAD framework the Train to Compete stage comes just before the highest stage, Training to Win.

    As mentioned in our overview of the LTAD framework the entire LTAD structure is a periodization model for an athlete's career. Learning movement, then skills, followed by developing a foundation for training are the basic stages of the process. Later, and Train to Compete is part of the later stages, athletes refine and optimize athleticism; learning to perform consistently at the edge of their ability. The point of the framework is to present a developmental model of how youngsters actually become athletes.

    Many see the framework as an administrative tool for associations or a training guide for coaches. Certainly it is these things but it is also much more when considered in terms of sport culture and how a country approaches athlete development overall. For many countries, including Malaysia, the LTAD framework highlights what's missing and where weaknesses in the sport development system may be found.

    Malaysia has highly developed later LTAD stages. The Training to Compete and Training to Win stages are supported by experts in all areas needed for high performance. Athletes are given the best training conditions, good facilities, sport medicine expertise, and training and competitive opportunities.

    Where Malaysia falls short is in the lower stages. Few sports have any kind of sustainable or consistent developmental programs, club system, effective governance, or adequate data systems. This aspect of sport development was discussed in a previous article that highlighted the preparation gap between athletes at the highest level of Malaysian sport and those just starting out.

    The lower LTAD stages are either missing or weak. Athletes still rise to the top of the sport hierarchy though since high performance sport is relative to the country rather than some absolute level of performance. Athletes at the top of Malaysian sport now are the best the country has. With better implementation of the LTAD framework at the lower levels of each sport future Malaysian athletes will be better prepared for the higher levels and thus ultimately better athletes.

    --------
    Bill Price (price@ussa-my.com) is the Chief Information Officer at USSA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

    All articles

    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018


    YES! Malaysia is starting to talk about sport structure! - 08 January 2018


    Why are there no local coaches to take Zhuliang's place? - 25 December 2017


    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age can have benefits, and consequences, in youth sports - 11 December 2017


    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Three problems facing Malaysian sport - 27 November 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017


    Malaysia's sibutramine incident offers a glimpse into the complexity of the drugs in sport issue - 06 November 2017


    Want to lose weight? Try the USSA Malaysia 1-month, 'Choose Water' challenge - 30 October 2017


    Swimming disputes in Sarawak highlight governance, development, and data issues - 23 October 2017


    You're out! BAM eliminates players from Super Series and Grand Prix Gold tournaments unless they join BAM program - 10 October 2017


    Is American football about to meet its Waterloo? - 02 October 2017


    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Is the SEA Games event program too big? - 21 August 2017


    Bicycling safety tips - 14 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    The difference between sport and energy drinks - 31 July 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    Physical education is not the same thing as physical activity - 17 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    Training for performance vs. exercising for weight loss. Yes, there's a difference! - 03 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    When it comes to fitness, ROUTINE is the magic word - 19 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


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    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


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    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    Physical literacy or physical education: Which is it? - 31 October 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    What is a therapeutic use exemption and is it cheating? - 03 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 12 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <X> - 29 August 2016


    Parental support is vital to sport success - 22 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    A sport development system vs. just being lucky - 08 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    The IOC is wrong: Russia should have been banned from Rio - 28 July 2016


    Building pyramids: A lesson in goal setting - 20 June 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    It's time to stop talking about BMI - 24 May 2016


    Happy Teachers' Day! - 16 May 2016


    USSA Malaysia at official Khidmat Negara 2.0 launch - 27 April 2016


    Changing the SEA Games event list ignores key sport development principles - 16 April 2016


    Welcome PLKN trainers! - 25 March 2016


    Malaysian youth are not overweight, but they're not active either - 15 February 2016


    Cycling coach hits the nail on the head - 5 February 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    McClung launches Healthy Lifestyle book at convocation ceremony - 01 January 2016


    Almost 500 graduates attend convocation at the Institut Latihan DBKL - 09 December 2015


    REMINDER: Deadline to register for convocation is 27 November! - 25 November 2015


    Convocation registration is now open! - 20 November 2015


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    USSA Malaysia teaching Fit4Life module in Khidmat Negara pilot - 26 October 2015


    IDPESC convocation set for Thursday, 3 December - 29 September 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Selamat Hari Merdeka! - 31 August 2015


    IDPESC '14 grades are available in student portals - 29 August 2015


    IDPESC students should verify their personal information in the student portal - 26 August 2015


    Convocation lists for IDPESC 2014 are being finalized - 22 August 2015


    Ten minutes to aerobic fitness - 17 August 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015


    The one-minute exercise program - 01 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    20 things a physical education teacher knows that you don’t (part 2) - 13 July 2015


    20 things a physical education teacher knows that you don’t - 06 July 2015


    Playing football in class is not physical education - 29 June 2015


    Why is there no grade for the CEE 526 data submission? - 28 June 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015


    Account recovery process streamlined - 19 June 2015


    Seeing and listening use different parts of the brain - 15 June 2015


    All IDPESC assignments and performance data is due by 30 June - 12 June 2015


    Ban the sit-up - 09 June 2015


    Assignments highlighted in red need to be resubmitted - 30 May 2015


    Age and sex of performance testing subjects are determined by their IC number - 23 May 2015


    Happy Teacher's Day! - 16 May 2015


    30 May deadline for second batch of IDPESC assignments - 12 May 2015


    USSA-MY gets new look - 11 May 2015