A critical period, or “window” of development, refers to the point in the development of a specific capacity when training has an optimal effect. Other factors are readiness and critical periods of trainability during growth and development of young athletes, where the stimulus must be timed to achieve optimum adaptation with regard to motor skills, muscular, and/or aerobic power.
Trainability refers to the faster adaptation to stimuli and the genetic endowment of athletes as they respond individually to specific stimuli and adapt to it accordingly. Trainability has been defined as the responsiveness of developing individuals to the training stimulus at different stages of growth and maturation.
The 5 Basic S's of Training and Performance are Stamina (Endurance), Strength, Speed, Skill, and Suppleness (Flexibility). (Dick, 1985)
Speed, Skill and Suppleness is based on Chronological Age. Stamina and Strength are based on Developmental Age.
Biological markers for Developmental Age:
– Onset of the PHV or Growth Spurt
– PHV (after growth decelerates)
– Onset of Menarche in girls
The optimal window of trainability occurs at the onset of the adolescent growth spurt. Aerobic capacity training is recommended before athletes reach their peak rate of growth, peak height velocity (PHV). Aerobic power should be introduced progressively after growth rate decelerates.
The optimal window of trainability for girls is immediately after PHV or at the onset of the menarche, while for boys it is 12 to 18 months after PHV.
For boys, the first speed training window (quickness) occurs between the ages of 7 and 9 years and the second speed window occurs between the ages of 13 and 16. For girls, the first speed training window occurs between the ages of 6 and 8 years and the second window occurs between the ages of 11 and 13 years.
The window for optimal skill training for boys takes place between the ages of 9 and 12 and between the ages of 8 and 11 for girls.
The optimal window of trainability for suppleness for both genders occurs between the ages of 6 and 10. Special attention should be paid to flexibility during PHV.
Training, competitive and recovery programs should consider the mental, cognitive, and emotional development of each athlete. Beyond the physical, technical, and tactical development — including decision-making skills — the mental, cognitive, and emotional development should also be enhanced.
A major objective of the ADM is a holistic approach to athlete development. This includes emphasis on ethics, fair play, and character building throughout the various stages and objectives that reflect American values. Programming should be designed considering athletes’ cognitive ability to address these concepts.