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Home » Children's Kung Fu » LTAD for Children
updated on: August 06 2019

Children's Martial Arts - Long Term Athlete Development

long term athlete development model

The steps to becoming a world-class athlete begin long before your child picks up his or her first bat, hockey stick or soccer ball; straps on that first pair of figure skates; or dips a toe into a competitive pool. The future elite athlete learns basic movement skills early in life. These skills serve as the foundation for specialized sports movements, like pitching a softball, swinging a bat or completing a graceful backstroke. Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) creates a clear path to a healthier lifestyle and athletic excellence, long before your child knows in which sport he or she will want to specialize.

Scientific Framework for Physical Growth & Development

The Long-Term Athlete Development framework is based on scientific study of human growth and development. It provides structure to ensure that children correctly and safely learn fundamental movement skills and that these skills are introduced during the optimal point in their physical development. When this happens, children are more likely to live fit, active, healthy lifestyles and excel in sports through adulthood. Structured physical activities, like kung fu, play an essential role in the development of these skills. Kung fu can help your child develop the physical, mental and social skills necessary to excel in competitive sports. At Bamboo Kung Fu we teach our students a wide repertoire of movements that strengthen growing joints and muscles and provide a fun, exhilarating workout for the entire body. These movements help students improve stamina, strength, speed, skill and suppleness (flexibility), all of which are essential to the development of an athlete. Kung fu will help your child to achieve physical literacy and master basic movement skills, which will become the building blocks for sports-specific movements. Here at Bamboo Kung Fu, we don’t do cookie cutter, age-based programs for children. Your child will be assessed individually, so we can guide him or her child through the critical, early stages of LTAD and enhance his or her development in the latter stages.

Active Start

long term athlete development 1 active start

The Active Start stage of LTAD begins with infancy. Children six and under require daily energetic play that integrates a wide range of movements like crawling, running, jumping, rolling, catching, throwing, twisting and maintaining balance. Daily physical activity boosts brain function, improves emotional well-being and enables children to learn agility, balance, coordination and speed - the ABCs of movement. These basic movements create a foundation on which children will build during later stages of development.

During Bamboo Kung Fu's children's classes, six-year-olds are taught a variety of movements which help build agility, balance, coordination and speed. As new skills are mastered, your child will become more confident. Introduction to a more structured play environment teaches focus and self-discipline. Partner and team activities aid in social development.


long term athlete development 2 fundamentals

During the FUNdamental stage of LTAD, girls 6-8 and boys 6-9 should further develop essential movement skills by participating in a variety of fun, well-structured sports and activities. Participation in structured programs led by qualified instructors helps children to solidify basic movement skills and learn sports-specifics movements. This period is critical to Long-Term Athlete Development. A child's ability to develop sports-specific skills, in later years, is severely compromised if physical literacy is not achieved before the puberty growth spurt begins. Bamboo Kung Fu incorporates fun, challenging, engaging activities and games into each children's kung fu class. The fundamental movement skills are reinforced and enhanced, agility, balance, coordination and speed are improved through various exercises and partner activities. Fundamental sports-specific skills, like punching, kicking and learning how to fall safely, are introduced. Forms—predefined sequences of movements—are learned. Additional emphasis is placed on the etiquette of respect, the development of focus and honing listening skills. Personal interaction and social behavior are also further developed.

Learn to Train


Once fundamental skills are confidently developed, girls 8-11 and boys 9-12 are ready to begin turning those building blocks into sports-specific movements, like pitching a fast ball or shooting a basketball. Though children at this stage are ready for more formalized training in specific sports, they are still encouraged to participate in a variety of sports and activities. Focusing solely on a single sport at this stage can contribute to unbalanced development and the increased probability of overuse injuries and early burnout. At Bamboo Kung Fu, students in the Learn to Train stage are taught the importance of proper technique and about the mechanics of the body. Stamina and strength are developed through the practice of forms and fun, but challenging, activities. The ABCs are further reinforced through the execution of proper technique. Self-discipline, perseverance and focus are enhanced, strengthening mental and emotional acuity. Students learn simple strategy and how to set goals for themselves and their teams. These physical and mental skills are transferable to other sports, like basketball, baseball, soccer and hockey. They are also essential to daily living.


Later Stages of the Long-Term Athlete Development Model


Whereas the earlier stages of the Long-Term Athlete Development model are designed to encourage physical literacy and kung-fu literacy, the later stages: Train to Train, Train to Compete and Train to Win, are focused on enhancing kung fu-specific skills, like more advanced techniques and the safe, strategic handling of traditional kung fu weapons. The final stage of LTAD, Active for Life, encourages students to enjoy a life-long, healthy, active lifestyle which incorporates the movements and principles of kung fu. Therefore, children aged 13 and older are incorporated into our adult kung fu classes, which enhance kung-fu specific skills, while also increasing each athlete's overall stamina, strength, speed, skill and suppleness, complementing other sports in which the student is involved. The here at Bamboo Kung Fu is designed around a holistic approach to supporting the development of your child. Our small classes, led by qualified instructors, enhance the physical, mental and emotional development of each child. Children learn a heightened level of focus and respect. They learn tactical skills, and their decision-making abilities are enhanced. These factors contribute to Long-Term Athlete Development. More importantly, they contribute to the overall maturation and successful daily living of each student - now, and in the years to come.


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