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Sports Science: Servant or Master?
July 13, 2018
Sport Science: Servant or Master? Last month I attended Vern Gambetta’s GAIN conference in Houston, Texas.  A great mix of practical sessions, seminars and informal idea sharing, it is my annual chance to take time out and immerse myself in learning. I shall be sharing some of the ideas and insights learnt this year. The […]
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LTAD- USA versus UK

How many matches should be played in a year?

ltad

Train to play

I had the pleasure of meeting Mauro deGennaro, Director of Athletics at Hoboken High School, last week. We were talking about his schedule of training for his football team this autumn, and he was saying that they were going to be training easy in the week because of the amount of contact in the game. How many games a season do they play?

9. That’s right 9. His 14 year old Freshman play 9 football games a season, then move to another sport next term.

Speaking to another Coach in the UK last week, whose 14 year old son plays rugby for the school, club and district teams, he said if all the matches go ahead, then that child will play 50 rugby matches this season.

50, that’s right- FIFTY.

That is a prime example of why Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is just another acronym or poster presentation in a folder on a shelf somewhere in this country.

The research is out there, there are rules in place, but coaches and parents will always find a way to ignore these- until the player breaks, or quits at 16. Those that survive will then be put onto a sagittal plane hypertrophy programme and told to put on 10kg each off season (about 5 weeks currently here).

This is not some secret that no one can understand, but it does seem difficult to implement.
Why play our junior players to death, (but don’t do weights under -16 because of the likelihood of injury) and then expect them to cope with a barbell lifting programme designed for adults, that reinforces all the negative movement patterns they have developed from overspecialising at a young age?

Here are some pointers for parents and coaches alike:

  • Have a quick check as to whether this is happening in your governing body, club, district or school.
  • Have a look at who is delivering and designing programmes for your youth athletes. Are they experienced, knowledgeable and conscientious?
  • Is the programme designed for development?
  • Is there a long term approach? What will your child be looking like and how they will they be moving in 3 years time?
  • Will they still want to play the sport and be healthy at 18?
  • Is someone co ordinating the overall plan for your child- between all sports and all teams?

Don’t wait until they are broken.

Comments

  1. Doug Kuit says:

    Sadly the RFU palms responsibility for this off onto the Club and school coaches to manage. Most club coaches are amateurs with full time jobs and do not have the time to co-ordinate the playing load of 30+ boys.

    Schools have absolutely no interest in the views of the Clubs especially the mainstream “rugby schools”. The revamp of the schools vs clubs match scheduling of a couple of years ago is a total failure.

    Until the GMS platform is upgraded so that team sheets have to be completed for every game to track players game time and then it is actively policed nothing will change.

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