ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT MODEL
One of the most devastating mistakes that young athletes (and their parents) make is specializing in one sport too early. During adolescence, athletes develop a “movement pattern library” that they rely on for the rest of their lives. In other words, playing multiple sports is NECESSARY to develop elite level athleticism. Further, early specialization leads to increased probability of burnout (e.g. athletes quitting when they're older), and overuse sport-related injuries.
A study analyzing performance and coordination tests on 735 boys aged 10-12 found that those participating in multiple sports outperformed those who specialized in a single sport. - Fransen et al., 2012
Another study found that 88% of the 296 Division I athletes surveyed at UCLA participated in 2-3 sports as children, and that 70% didn't specialize until at least 12 years of age. - DiFiori, 2013
Endeavor's Athlete Development Model is designed to produce elite athletes, the right way. Traditional methods create high level athletes at relatively young ages (e.g. middle school and high school) that fail to progress beyond that point.
Because they did not develop a large enough foundation, they aren't able to realize their full potential and compete at the most elite levels (NCAA Division I and professionally). In fact, it is because they rushed the development process that they've actually limited their full potential. This flawed process is a classic example of sacrificing long-term glory for short-term gain.
Our Athlete Development Model is based on an understanding of both psychological and physical development, the latter of which is driven by research demonstrating "sensitive periods" for the development of specific athletic qualities within an athlete's maturation process.
This graph demonstrates sensitive periods for the development of specific athletic qualities based on chronological age and peak height velocity (PHV)
This is a proven system for developing elite level athletes. It is meant as a guideline of progression for athletes, parents, and youth coaches who may have been misinformed about proper athletic development practices.
- Participate in 2-3 different sports with distinct off-seasons
- Emphasis should be on having fun with friends
- Incorporate other outdoor activities (e.g. riding a bike, rollerblading, hiking, playing tag, run to bases, capture the flag, etc.)
- Participate in 2 different sports with distinct off-seasons
- Emphasis should be on developing overall athleticism and sport-specific skills
- Begin athletic development training program (1-2x/week in-season, 2-4x/week off-season), emphasis on learning efficient movement patterns and proper lifting technique
- Specialization in one sport is okay at this point
- Emphasis on maximizing sport-specific skill
- Participate in athletic development training program (2x/week in-season, 4x/week off-season) with increased emphasis on maximizing strength, power, and conditioning
These age groups are general guidelines based on physical and psychosocial development. To paraphrase athletic development expert Michael Boyle, it's important that we don't apply adult values to youth sports programs. The importance of having fun should not be overlooked in the development process, and, in fact, should be the primary priority at most youth levels.