Real World LTAD Framework (1)

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3-part series on building a “Real-World” athletic development framework for Youth athletes.

This series of blog posts will delve into my tried and tested framework implemented for students aged between 10 – 18 years of age.

We kick-off with an in-depth look at the foundational phase – our “Earn-the-Right Program”.

Before jumping into this framework, a couple of assumptions need to be discussed in order to determine who is ready for this program.

Firstly, mental maturity of the students and kids – are they ready to jump into a program, into the weights room, into structured session or is “play” still their best form of activity.

Secondly, do your clients, students or kids have some level of internal drive to get better?? I fully understand their internal drive will fluctuate more than the weather report, but do they have enough motivation to undertake the long journey ahead or is it their parents pushing them??

These are all questions I cannot answer for you but are major factors to be considered before implanting this framework.

Programming Focus:

The first phase of this program is titled “Earn-the Right” Program.

Students with 0 to 2 years training history will start here and roughly spend 2years within this phase of the framework.

This phase is categorised by a level-based system, whereby the kids progress and regress up and down the major foundational movements – Squat, Hinge, Unilateral, Upper Body Push, Upper Body Pull & Brace. 

For each of these 6 foundational movement patterns there are four levels (1 = easiest to 4 = hardest). I won’t go in-depth with what each level’s exercise is for each movement as this will change depending on your philosophies.

However, an example of mine is in the table below:

Squat Movement Pattern

Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4
Air SquatGoblet SquatBB Front SquatBB Back Squat
I like the student ticking their name off, as I find it creates a greater sense of achievement for the individual.  Plus, they are now more likely to remember what level they are up to!!As a training session occurs, the athlete can be moved up or down a level depending on their movement ability. A coach is the only one who can change their level and a student is the only one who can physically tick their level off on the public board.

As these 6 foundational movements don’t cover every movement quality, we also use extended warm-ups at the beginning of each program.

These extensive blocks of the session are not just a means to prepare the individual what is ahead, but also used to introduce fun integral movements such as gymnastic & sprinting into the program.

These are done in a way that is creative, playful & enjoyable!

Coaching Focus:

Now I’ve touched on the technical & programming foci of the “Earn-the-Right” phase. The next segment of this article is on how to COACH during this part of the framework.

Our major coaching focus for these individuals, new to athletic development, is to sell the dream!! Why is this training important not just the skill-based work?

Now, I can’t just give you an exact way that will be successful in your setting, as each of you will be working with different clients, environments & situations. 

What I can say is target your “selling” to the individuals in front of you!! Unfortunately, if you are working with large groups you’ll often need to “sell” numerous different dreams within the same group. Some very generic stories I’ve brought to life include;

  • Boys = “Building muscles”, “Dominance in contact sports”, “Aesthetics”
  • Girls = “Increased sporting performance through speed & power”, “Toned” & “Getting Strong”

Lastly, but most importantly, we reward consistency of effort not talent and performance. This is used to instil work ethic, grit & determination in their behaviours rather than focussing on outcomes and results.

Finally, always reward positive actions rather than punishing negative behaviour.

In my current environment (private school sector), I’m lucky to have access to the students from a young age.

We start the Earn-the-Right Phase for our students at the age 11/12. However, as each student participates in weekly HPE lessons we run a 4minute drill (FUN 4) within each warmup for HPE lessons for students between 9-11 years of age.

This preluding program is simply designed to introduce the boys to 4 basic bodyweight movements – Squat, Unilateral, Upper Body Push & Bracing – and is run by the HPE teachers.

Tune in next week as we go over our next Phase – The Developmental Program.

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