WHY IS LTPD IMPORTANT TO JUNIOR SQUASH PLAYERS? Briefly, LTPD is important to junior squash players as a roadmap to assist them in achieving their goals in the sport. Juniors are not simply “little adults”, they have a variety of different mental and physical needs predicated upon their age and stage of development which should be at the forefront of programming their training. A failure to pay attention to building blocks of training eventually results in players failing to achieve their potential in the sport due to inadequate training, injury and even burnout.
TAKE HOME QUOTE “Children are not “little adults” and shouldn’t be simply put through the same programming as professional players.”
BACKGROUND Long Term Player Development or Long Term Athletic Development is a concept I first came across in the 1990’s when I was an athlete in the Victorian Institute of Sport in Melbourne, Australia. The then Head Coach, Roger Flynn had a rigorous academic understanding of sports development and introduced the squash program to a Canadian academic by the name of Istvan Balyi. In many ways Balyi was a pioneer in the field and has written many scholarly articles and books on the subject of LTPD and its role in producing world class performance. The Squash Tigers methodology derives many of its principles from LTPD, but with many modifications to take into account the individual differences of our players and the demands of being a student athlete in 2021!
WHAT ARE THE STAGES IN LTPD? Famously, Balyi initially put together three stages in athletic development: training to train, training to compete and training to win. These three stages are great building blocks for understanding in broad terms our attitude towards producing players. For Tiger purposes, we break it into: * Learning to Play * Learning to Train * Learning to Compete * Training to Compete * Training to Win Conceptually the model begins with players who are under ten and peaks with recruitment to college – however it is important to note that this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case! The methodology and principles have been proven with a variety of “late starting” players, many of who have taken up the sport at under fifteen and still managed to “catch up” to the field, make it to the top echelons of the rankings and compete in college.
WHAT DOMAINS NEED TO BE TRAINED? Within the broadly different emphases of LTPD are the FIVE S.M.A.R.T. TRAINABLES of athletic development – another Tiger Pillar of development. The five trainables are: * Strategy * Mental Skills * Athleticism * Real World Skills and * Technical literacy All of which we will discuss in our next BLOG!