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Introduction
LTPD Pathway
Functional Screening
Anatomical Adaptation
Game Demands
Conditioning for Rugby
Periodisation in Rugby
Content
Questions

Long Term Player Development Pathway and key principles

Fitness gains in young players

There is ample evidence to show that children and teenagers can improve in strength (Falk and Tenembaum, 1996, Payne et al,1997), anaerobic fitness (Tolfrey, 2007) and aerobic fitness (Baquet et al, 2003) as well as speed, balance and stability (Gilligan et al, 2005). Further, resistance training when completed under the qualified supervision of an adult is safe and gains can be made by children as young as 8 to 10 years of age (Payne et al, 1997, Falk and Tenembaum, 1996).

Given the possibilities for improved general fitness within children, it is important not to assume that scaled down adult programmes are appropriate. An important principle that is articulated within the Long Term Player Development Pathway is that children are not mini-adults. This means that our understanding of coaching and fitness methods needs to be child-centred. Thus, the process of growth and development which occurs throughout the pre-teenage and teenage years needs to be understood, so that fitness development of children and teenagers is managed in a safe, progressive and enjoyable manner.

As regards the adult game, we are aware of the importance of ensuring that the player is developed and prepared to play within a periodised and progressive manner (Bompa, 2000, Bompa et al, 2003). The latter stages of the Long Term Player Development Pathway, including the ‘Learn to Compete’ and ‘Train to Win’ stages, provide guidelines for the Strength and Conditioning coach at the adult game level. Of importance to those of us who work within the adult game is an understanding of the demands of the game and the concept and practice of periodisation. These topics, as well as practical physical fitness preparation, will be addressed later in this course.