By Hoops

Another trilogy? - we'll see. Maybe Hoops has a future in movies.  I realized that in a number of my writings I have referenced Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and I have always prefaced my comments with "in my limited knowledge". I decided to change that and, lately have spent too much time in front of my computer reading up on the subject and how it relates to basketball. I am definitely not yet an expert, but I am now more comfortable discussing it.

Firstly, it appears to be something that we cannot ignore - it's not going to go away. It is based upon sound scientific research. The funding of all amateur sport is more and more tied to it and it makes sense. It may be something that some of us would disagree with, but ignoring it, would probably be foolish for us all. If I have concluded one thing, it is that we all need to try to understand it, gradually embrace it, and begin implementing it in what we do in basketball. This may be one of those big paradigm shifts we sometimes hear about.

LTAD is defined as a framework that recognizes the distinct stages of physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional development in participants in sport. It provides a clear path to better sport, greater health, and higher achievement. Children, youth and adults need to do the right things at the right time to develop in the sport. It describes the things athletes need to be doing at specific ages and stages. The stages have some odd names - Active Start, FUNdamentals, Learn to Train, Train to Train, Train to Compete, Train to Win and Active for Life. These terms are showing up more and more in the day-to-day discussion of all amateur sports.

It appears that the most important part of the title is long term. I think we might all agree that too many basketball coaches appear to be more concerned about the short term - i.e. the current season and how many games that team can win - now. If we truly care about the basketball future of the players we are coaching, and the game in general, we need to look at doing what is best for them in their skill development over the long term and that may not coincide with what we could do in an attempt to win as  many games as possible during the current season.

Two of the most relevant aspects to the game of basketball deal with the appropriate age for specialization and the relationship between practice time and games - i.e. training vs. competition. I think that I will leave those both for my next submission. As usual, I welcome any and all comments below.

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