Optimal competition calendar planning at all stages is critical to athlete development. At certain stages, developing the physical capacities take precedence over competition. At later stages, the ability to compete well becomes the focus.
Stages & recommended ratios:
Active Start - No specific ratios - all activity based on developing physical literacy and child's passion to play and participate
FUNdamentals - All activities FUN-based including some structured competition
Learn to Train - 70% training to 30% competition-specific training and actual competition
Train to Train - 60% training to 40% competition-specific training and actual competition
Train to Compete - 40% training to 60% competition-specific training and actual competition
Train to Win - 25% training to 75% competition-specific training and actual competition
Active for Life - Based on the individual's desire
Key points to consider:
- Optimal sport-specific competition ratios are required for all stages of Long-Term Athlete Development.
- Level and length of the competitive season should be aligned with the changing needs of the developmental athlete progressing through Long-Term Athlete Development.
- Over-competition and under-training at the Learn to Train and Train to Train stages result in a lack of basic skills and fitness.
- The appropriate level of competition is critical to technical, tactical, and mental development at all stages.
- Schedules are often set for team sports by leagues and organizations and not by the coach and athlete, making optimal training based on periodization difficult. For individual sports, individual competition schedules can be selected by the coach and athlete based on the athlete’s developmental needs.
- The current competition structure is based on tradition. It should be planned to enhance optimal training and performance of the athlete depending upon their Long-Term Athlete Development stage.
- Competitions in Canada must be created and scheduled strategically, with due regard for the optimal performance of an athlete and their tapering and peaking requirements.
- Optimal training-to-competition ratios for individual sports vary greatly and must be determined on a sport-specific basis.
- While international and national calendars are usually well integrated, a systematic sport-specific competition review needs to be undertaken. This is one of the biggest challenges for team sports and a significant challenge for individual sports in Long-Term Athlete Development design and implementation.
>> Learn about the next key factor: Excellence Takes Time
To read the entire Canadian Sport for Life - Long-Term Athlete Development 2.1 resource paper, click here.