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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

10 key principles of LTAD

Fundamental movement skills

The LTAD model of Balyi and Way (2005) does not highlight the critical role of play (in its various forms) during the early childhood years (see Figures 5 and 6 below). During this period from infancy to approximately 6 years of age, several researchers content that the fundamental movement skills are honed and that their level of development will subsequently influence later performance (Gallaghue and Donnelly 2003).

Figure 3. Fundamental movement skill development in the early childhood years is regarded as an important contributor to later sport performance.

Also, the prior involvement of a player in the different types of child play is, for the most part, ignored in the model. Of interest to us is whether there is a relationship between early childhood free play involvement (that is the type of play and the quantity of it) and later player performance. Currently, while several authors may express an opinion that such relationships may exist, such questions have not received adequate attention within the scientific research community. We look forward to such questions being addressed in the near future.

Figure 4. The later childhood years, again an important period for FMS development.

The important role of the FMS skills are well articulated in general in the model of Balyi and Way (2005). This is now a relatively common part of any LTAD approach across a broad range of sports including Rugby Union. The practical application of FMS coaching and practice is however, not quite as well developed in terms of actual coaching practice. Many coaches still struggle to understand how FMS skills can be incorporated into the coaching session. Given the fact that informal play is now significantly less in terms of time than it was 25 years ago, coaches and educators are challenged to devise methods and means to allow for greater FMS integration into the Rugby Union coaching plan especially for the growing child.

While there seems to be an acknowledgement that having children exposed to a variety of sports in their early formative years is a positive thing, it is by no means clear that participation in a variety of sports is essential for elite performance. A study by Moesch and colleagues (2011) notes that participation in a variety of sports in the formative early teenage years neither differs between the non-elite and elite groups nor does it predict eventual success.