LTAD and periodization

This past week I was at a Sport Canada workshop on Long Term Athlete Development.

One of the important periods being targeted in athlete development is that surrounding the primary growth phase as identified through peak height velocity (PHV). Well design training in this important period in a young athlete’s life can open up windows of training opportunities that optimize training adaptations in; the steady growth before PHV, during the rapid acceleration in growth, the rapid deceleration in growth and the post growth phases.

Given some of the interesting discussions in the triathlon coaching world on training periodization. Old school training plans, new age plans, reverse periodization, etc. One central concept to all is the impact of the competitive schedule on the program design.

With PHV considerations in mind, training program designs is driven by the developmental needs of the athlete first and the demands of competition second.

This is a radical shift for the majority of club coaches, as in large groups it is the norm that the athletes must fit the plan. It is just easier that way 9-10 year olds together, 11-12’s, 13-14’s, etc. However, some progressive clubs have decided that easier is not always the best route and have chosen to embrace LTAD around PHV. In in so doing are are already showing huge gains in athlete development However, the shift in thinking around PHV requires

Ironically, what these top clubs are doing is very similar to what elite coaches do with their high performance athletes; the training programs are made to fit the athlete.

So what form should periodization take?

  • Reverse
  • Forward
  • Old school
  • New School

Sure, whatever you call it.

Regardless, most importantly periodization must be reactionary to the needs of the athlete’s development; chronological, technical, physiological, tactical, psychological and sociological.


Alan Carlsson

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