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Children's Football

What is Long-Term Player Development?

It is the planned, systematic and progressive development of individual athletes. It’s also referred to as long-term participant development or long-term player development (LTPD or LTAD). It is the answer to one fundamental question:

What needs to be done at each stage of human development to give every child the best chance of engaging in lifelong, health-enhancing physical activity? And for those with drive and talent, the best chance of athletic success?

Effective long-term athlete development focuses on what’s best for the participant throughout their life. Rather than short-term gains and early success.

The aim of the model is to address any shortcomings and resulting consequences that hinder the current system. As well as providing positive experiences for all participants.

LTAD model explained

The LTAD model is a seven-stage framework. It guides the participation, training, competition and recovery pathways in sport and physical activity. This is used from infancy through all stages of adulthood. The seven stages are:

  1. Active Start
  2. FUNdamentals
  3. Learn to Train
  4. Train to Train
  5. Train to Compete
  6. Train to Win
  7. Active for Life

LTAD focuses on the needs of participants and their individual stages of development. It also provides a point of reference for coaches, administrators, parents and sport scientists. The model recognises both participation and performance-orientated pathways in sport and physical activity. It also comes after the fun-based development of physical literacy in the early years. The framework also provides guidance to improve the quality of sport and physical activity by helping children become physically literate.

Athletes under the LTAD model experience developmentally appropriate training and competition programmes at all ages. This increases their participation and optimises performance. People also develop physical literacy during the first three stages of LTAD. This allows them to move on to the later stages (Figure 1.3).

LTAD model

The model also recognises that people go through stages of growth and development from birth to death. At any stage, a range of physical, psychological, social and environmental factors can affect the ability to participate, train and compete in physical activity.


Coach Shailesh is a AFC 'B' License, AFC Futsal L1 and FA Level 2 Coach. An AIFF Lead Tutor and AIFF Match Commissioner, his work in the field of Grassroots Football earned him a nomination in the AFC Grassroots Awards 2019 for 'Best Grassroots Leader in Asia'

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