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  • Josh Gray

The Specialization Phases

In the previous article, I discussed the last of the foundational phases which was “Learn to Train” and Train to Train”. The focus of the foundational phases is to develop physical literacy before and during puberty to set athletes up for more athletic success later in their careers, and to improve their quality of life as they begin to age. In this article, I will address the last “youth” stage and will briefly touch on the last phase of this model.

The next phase is “train to compete” and usually occurs between 16-18 years old in males, and 15-17 years old in men. This is the recommended period for youth to start specializing in their chosen sport. Age is not the sole determinant of the transition to this phase, rather it is based on the successful completion of all the objectives from the “Train to Train” stage.

During this period, training should become more individualized to focus on an athlete’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Individual and sport specific training should be the main emphasis and should be provided to the athlete year-round. 50% of the training should be devoted to competition specific training with the focus of the other 50% on technical and tactical skill development. This is also a time where the basic skills that were mastered in the previous phases can be tested under various competitive environments. The competition to training ratio should be 60:40, with athletes participating in different types of training 9-12 times per week.

The last phase is the “train to win” phase and would include all athletes 18+ years old. By this time, the athlete would be in college or playing for a professional organization. Since this series was directed toward youth coaches, I will not expand any further on this phase.

This wraps up the series on long term athletic development. I hope you enjoyed it and gained some good insights. Thank you for reading and feel free to like, comment, or share theses articles if you found them beneficial!

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