SNYB-LTADGiven the recent popularity on specialization in sport, the team at Steve Nash Youth Basketball has been working to compile more resources to aid in navigating this sensitive subject. The following excerpt was sourced from Canada Basketball’s Athlete Development Model. It is important to note that Specialization is just one of TEN* key factors in the overarching goal of Canadian Sport for Life’s (CS4L) Long-Term Athlete Development model (LTAD). In order to deliver a successful sporting experience, especially during the younger ages from Active Start, through FUNdamentals to the Learn to Train stages, we “encourage programs to look deeply at their existing practices” (ADM, 2007).

Before we move on, it is important to breakdown the seven stage LTAD model into its components.
  • Stage 1: Active Start (0-6 years)

  • Stage 2: FUNdamentals (girls 6-8, boys 6-9)

  • Stage 3: Learn to Train (girls 8-11, boys 9-12)

  • Stage 4: Train to Train (girls 11-15, boys 12-16)

  • Stage 5: Train to Compete (girls 15-21, boys 16-23)

  • Stage 6: Train to Win (girls 18+, boys 19+)

  • Stage 7: Active for Life (any age participant and can occur at any point along development)

By: Canada Basketball



Early specialization in a late-specialization sport, like basketball, has shown to lead to:

  • One-sided sport-specific preparation;

  • Lack of the basic fundamental movement skills;

    Overuse injuries;

  • Early burnout;

  • Early retirement from training and competition and often withdraw from physical activity
Specialization is not only the concept of specialization in one sport; it is also specialization within the sport. Basketball has continually forced the tall player to play in the “post.” Often this has meant the adolescent was not been allowed to use all of the skills required to play the game at the later stage of LTAD, when other late maturing players catch up and some times pass this player. Specialization has also occurred in our training sessions where coaches tend to focus more on team development rather than player development.

  • During the FUNdamentals, L2T (Learn to Train) and T2T (Train to Train) stages of LTAD we need to develop “global” players. These are players who have worked on all the skills and have trained to play every position;

  • Individualized training also includes defensive work. A global player also needs to be able to defend all positions on the floor;

  • Make use of offenses and defenses that encourage flexible positioning in the developmental stages of LTAD;

  • Review our current elite system. Are we selecting provincial/national teams too early?;

  • Fundamental movement skills need to be part of daily warm ups in training and in competition;

  • Strategies need to be developed that allow for coaches to account for early, average and late maturers

  • Strategies need to be developed to help with athletes identification vs. athlete selection. Currently we are selecting from the players who “show up” to try out. We need to identify future players and ensure that they receive the proper multi-skilled training at the early stages of LTAD. Many are exitingour sport in the later stages of LTAD or arrive there without the necessary skills need to compete;

  • Means must be found to include athletes with a disability in all stages of programming. Resources need to be developed to show coaches how this can be accomplished.
  • Every child is an athlete and needs the proper grounding in movement in order to develop an appreciation for physical activity and therefore derive the health benefits. This will also let them make wiser decisions as to which pathway of sport to choose;

  • The inability to detect the “great athlete” until after maturity;

  • Reduce boredom, frustration, burn outs and drop outs;

  • Ensure that all children develop the skills necessary to play at the next stage of LTAD if they wish to.

Stay tuned for more posts regarding CS4L’s LTAD model and an SNYB Original!

Have a topic you want to learn more about? Comment below! We love hearing from you!

*TEN Key Factors of LTAD

1. FUNdamentals

2. Specialization

3. Developmental Age

4. Trainability

5. Physical, Mental, Cognitive and Emotional Development

6. Periodization

7. Calendar Planning for Competition

8. The 10-Year Rule

9 System Alignment and Integration

10. Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Source: Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog
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