Sensitive Periods

sensitive periodsA sensitive period is a broad timeframe or window of opportunity when the learning of a specific skill or the development of a specific physical capacity is particularly effective. The entire period of childhood can be viewed as a sensitive period for mastering fundamental movement skills.

Trainability during the sensitive periods of accelerated adaptation to training refers to the body's responsiveness to training stimuli at different stages of growth and maturation. The physiological systems of the athlete can be trained at any age, but there are sensitive periods when individuals are especially responsive to specific types of training.

The sensitive periods of accelerated adaptation to training that occur before adolescence are based on chronological age, while those that occur during or after adolescent growth are based on their relationship to maturational markers (Balyi, 2001), such as the onset of the adolescent growth spurt or PHV itself (the peak growth rate after which growth decelerates), and the onset of menarche. Sensitive periods for stamina, strength and skills are identified using maturational markers as well. The trainability of speed and suppleness are based on chronological age.

The ten S's have been identified as important to building a complete and holistic plan for developing athletes: Stamina (Endurance) - Strength - Speed - Skill - Suppleness (Flexibility) - Structure/Stature Schooling - (p)Psychology - Sustenance - Socio-Cultural

>> Learn about the next key factor: Mental, cognitive and emotional development

To read the entire Canadian Sport for Life - Long-Term Athlete Development 2.1 resource paper, click here.

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