Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

Long-Term Athletic Development

Long-term athletic development models describe themes of training (i.e.,emphasis on fun vs. winning), and phases of accelerated development of specific physical qualities based on stages of development.

This model by Ford et al. (2011), is the most comprehensive I’ve come across, and is particularly valuable because it shows that the stages will be variable dependent on the individual athlete’s gender, biological age, mental/cognitive development, and emotional development (i.e., not all athletes hit the windows of accelerated development at the exact same age).

In using this information to influence training youth athletes, it’s helpful to understand the underlying mechanisms that are driving these accelerated stages of development.

For example, the first speed window is improved largely through rapid changes in development of the central nervous system – so in addition to performing short sprints with kids at this stage, it’s an optimal time to integrate a diverse range of movement patterns/skills, NOT just hammer the basics. This is similar to the shift toward teaching foreign languages at young ages.

Acknowledging these stages can help performance and sports coaches design training programs and practices that best facilitate development for their specific athletes, while also recognizing that a HUGE part of long-term development is creating an environment for kids to fall in love with the sport.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

A lot of attention has been paid to long-term athletic development and strategies to develop elite performers. The inarguable truth is… it takes time, and a lot of work.

Unfortunately, this fact has led to aggressive training and athlete development strategies being pushed on athletes at younger and younger ages, which is counter-productive.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Interested in age-specific year-round hockey training programs? Check out Ultimate Hockey Transformation

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.