Opportunities exist now more so than ever for young athletes to improve their skills in hopes of one day achieving bigger and better things. Athletes as young as three years old can sign up for private gymnastic or baseball lessons. These same athletes are part of multiple traveling teams in hopes of achieving maximum exposure.

As a result, society has promoted the notion of young children idolizing their favorite sports athlete. As the saying goes, if you want your child to be a pro then you need to train him/her like a pro. Despite little support of the early sport specialization (ess) model, many young athletes are forced to pick a sport, devote the majority of their time to that sport in hopes of excelling at that sport amongst their peers.

Unfortunately, the thinking of a young athletes as mere “little adults” is far too common in today’s day. Forcing a young athlete to specialize in one specific sport can often lead to resentment, resulting in a young athlete feeling either burnt out or hating exercise altogether. A young athlete under the ess model is put under extreme pressure to perform, while oftentimes that when they fail, they themselves feel like a failure. As a result, the pressure and emotions of failure can stick with a young athlete for the rest of their lives. Young athletes under the ess model have a direct correlation of a sedentary lifestyle as a result of resenting their sport and exercise altogether.


What, then is the alternative? With parents and coaches alike beginning to recognize the inherent shortcomings of the ess approach, the momentum has slowly started to shift.

Long-term athletic development (ltad) is the concept of exposing a young athlete to as many different types of movements and sports as possible at a young age. The underlying notion of the ltad approach is slow and steady continuous improvement over time, which in return fosters a passion for healthy living. Although, not as flashy as the prevailing paradigm, ltad instills lifelong skills, habits and mental strategies a young athlete can adopt not just on the field but off it as well for decades to come.

At elite sports performance we firmly believe in the ltad approach and try to instill it’s values in all of our members. We stress the importance of improvement rather than performance. In doing so, we are building the foundation for our young athletes to be successful for the rest of their lives. To say our society is in a battle with a hypokinetic lifestyle is no overstatement. By implementing and promoting the ltad approach, it is elite’s hope that our young athletes will foster a life-long fondness for exercise and thus result in a healthy lifestyle.