September 24, 2013 Updated: September 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm
There are certain times in our lives when we have the best chance of maximizing our physical potential.
At the Coalition for Launching Active Youth, we call these periods Proficiency Portals. They are stages when we can improve movement, strength, speed, spatial awareness, coordination, power, stamina, functional strength and skill.
These Proficiency Portals are rooted in the tenets of Long-Term Athlete Development, a term coined by Hungarian researcher and coach Istvan Balyi, which champions training models that span from 8 years in early-specialization sports such as gymnastics to 22 years for late-specialization sports such as men's golf.
To clarify, C.L.A.Y believes that everyone is an athlete, Some developed a love for sports. We're simply trying to create a love for movement.
There are no double-blind, peer-reviewed scientific studies that prove LTAD programs work. All coaches have to rely on are retroactive studies - one of the more famous being a study conducted by the U.S. Olympic Committee using athletes who competed between 1984 and 1998. That study found an average span of 12-13 years from introduction to main sport until selection to the Olympic team. A similar Australian study found 13 years from introduction to national team status.
The main point is success doesn't happen quickly. But parents have the ability to help. I will cover the first two phases of development today and finish them in two weeks.
The developmental model kicks off with the Active Start phase, which begins at birth and lasts until about age 5-6 in boys and age 4-5 in girls. During this phase, functional stability, balance and coordination are emphasized.
In the FUNdamentals phase, speed, agility, functional strength and response time enter the picture. This phase takes the males from 5-6 to about 9 years old and the females from 4-5 to about 8 years old.
Bryant holds several national training certifications, is an author, lectures internationally and is the founder of C.L.A.Y. His fitness tips appear biweekly in Health and Wellness.