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“Waking Up Champions” Overview of WSWC Long Term Athlete Development. WSWC Congress 2008. Purpose. More widely communicate, educate and seek feedback on how best to implement a sustainable Long Term Athlete Development program. Background Introduction & Purpose LTAD Factors & Stages

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  • More widely communicate, educate and seek feedback on how best to implement a sustainable Long Term Athlete Development program
  • Background
  • Introduction & Purpose
  • LTAD Factors & Stages
  • Update on implementation successes & challenges to date
  • Competitive structure trends
  • Present 3 implementation challenges for Congress to address
  • Major initiative for Sport Canada
    • Funding provided to design and implement a sport specific long term athlete development program
    • WSWC embraced this initiative and formed a steering committee to create a towed water sport specific program
      • 2005-2006 work on creating “Waking Up Champions”
      • 2007 introduction of basic concepts and some ideas for possible changes to competitive structure
        • Membership feedback expressed some concern with implementation choices
      • 2008 New implementation committee formed to seek member input
  • Framework
    • Outline for optimizing skier/rider development covering
      • Training / Competition / Recovery
    • Program is built on
      • Age / Maturation of athlete (not chronological age)
      • 10 Key Factors & separate phases of athlete development

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is an omnipresent concept that has implications for every aspect of towed water sports and their implementation and…

  • Represented in all of our programs
  • Affects all of our stakeholders
  • Necessitates the constant re-examination of what we do and how we can do it better
  • Forms future basis of program design for Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada
    • Programs should support key elements of LTAD
implementing ltad
Implementing LTAD







Stream &


From Learning

to ski or ride to

Elite Athlete

Training, Competition

& World results

Discipline & Adaptive

Neutrality &


LTAD is the over-arching framework upon which “on-water” programs, competitive structures, high performance results and athlete management are linked



Stakeholders & Program Scope

  • Athletes
  • Parents
  • Coaches
  • Administrators

LTAD Scope

  • Programs
  • Training practices
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Event calendar
  • Competition structure


  • Athletes
    • Stages: Developmental age
      • “What level am I at?” rather than “What level should I be at?”
    • Training principles
      • Develop a base before specializing
      • Windows of trainability
      • Holistic development: physical, mental, cognitive, emotional
  • Parents
    • What level are my children at?
    • What programs should they be enrolled in?
    • When should they begin focusing on competitions?


  • Coaches
    • What stage is this athlete at?
    • Which skills should I be teaching this athlete?
    • Which competitions (if any) should he/she be peaking for?
  • Administrators
    • Scheduling of competitions
    • Organization of age groups
    • Adaptation/creation of appropriate development programs
    • Linkages & hand-offs between programs
key ltad factors
Key LTAD Factors
  • 10 Year Rule
    • 10 years & 10,000 hours of skiing/riding to reach elite levels
  • Fundamentals
    • Basic movement skills learned at home:
      • Athletics / Gymnastics / Swimming
  • Specialization
    • Recognize that skiing and riding are LATE-specialization sports
  • Developmental Age
    • All kids develop differently
  • Trainability
    • 5 basic “S’s” of training and performance
      • Stamina /Strength /Speed / Skill / Suppleness
key ltad factors10
Key LTAD Factors
  • Physical, Mental, Cognitive & Emotional Development
    • Needs to be considered in training programs
  • Periodization
    • Planning technique to arrange training, competition and recovery into logical & scientifically based schedule
  • Calendar Planning
    • Over-competition & under-training at FUNdations & Build the Skills means lack of basic fitness
  • System Alignment & Integration
    • Athlete-centered / Coach-driven /Administration, Sport science & sponsor supported
  • Continuous Improvement
    • Drawn from Japanese industrial philosophy of Kaizen
ltad stages

“Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals acquiring experience is a matter of time”Greg LaMond

LTAD Stages
ltad stages12
LTAD Stages

Active Start

  • Learn fundamental movements and link them together into play
    • Ages: 0-6
    • 4 Pillars of Physical Literacy
      • Swimming
      • Gymnastics
      • Athletics
      • Sliding (water skiing, snow skiing, skating)
ltad stages13

“Success isn’t something that just happens - success is learned, success is practiced and then it is shared” Chuck Noll

LTAD Stages


  • Refine fundamental movement skills and acquire basic sport skills
    • Ages 6-8 (f) & 6-9 (m)
    • Basic Goals
      • Swim 25m, enjoy playing in & around water and be comfortable around boats. Understand basic safety
      • Have fun on 2 skis
      • Deliver program/teaching in a FUN and social environment
    • Key Delivery Programs
      • Rip ‘n Ride
      • SkiAbility
ltad stages14

“If you sacrifice early, you will win late”Charles Haley

LTAD Stages


  • Refine overall sport skills & develop sport specific skills
    • Ages 9-11 (f) & 10-12 (m)
      • Important age for accelerated adoption of motor coordination
    • Introduced to all facets of towed water sports
      • Continue to participate in 2-3 other sports
    • Introduction to coaching & competition, but in a fun setting
      • Mini-course / Relaxed rules
      • Access to Learn To Coaching
    • Key Delivery Program
      • Novice tournaments / Clubs / Clinics / Schools
ltad stages15

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them”Larry Bird

LTAD Stages

Build the Skills

  • Further skill refinement / Introduction to competition / Develop speed & strength / Build stamina & maintain flexibility to support training
    • Ages 12-15 (f) & 13-16 (m)
      • Age for accelerated & maximum skill development & aerobic, speed & strength training
      • Move into formal competition but continued emphasis on learning
        • Increased on-water time and begin to specialize in a discipline
    • Higher level coaching, competition & developmental programs
      • Utilize Competition-Introduction & “Discipline” Technical Instructor coaches
      • Club & provincial development programs
      • National Junior team development programs
ltad stages16

“Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half”Bum Phillips

LTAD Stages

Learn to Compete

  • Further skill refinement / Confidence in competition / Sport Specialization
    • Ages: WS/BF 16-19 (f) & 17-20 (m) / WB 15-16 (f) & 16-17 (m)
      • Specialization in chosen discipline
      • Confidence in a variety of competitive situations
      • Optimization of fitness preparation
      • Good decision-making skills
      • Continued enhancement of on-water skills and results
    • Specialized Competition Development coaching, international competition & developmental programs
      • Utilize Competition-Development and coaching
      • Provincial development programs
      • Collegiate programs
      • National Development Team programs
ltad stages17
LTAD Stages

Train to Compete

  • Consolidate technical skills / Increased training intensity / Individualized training up to 10 months per year
    • Ages: WS/BF 18-22 (f) & 19-23 (m) / WB 17-18 (f) & 18-19 (m)
      • Performance on demand
      • International performance improvement
    • Manage lifestyle to meet training/competition requirements
      • Competition Development & Competition High Performance Coaching
      • National Development team programs
      • Collegiate/University programs
ltad stages18

“The vision of a champion is someone bent over, drenched in sweat, to the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching”Anson Dorrance

LTAD Stages

Becoming a Champion

  • Stabilization of performance-on-demand characteristics
    • Ages: WS/BF 21-25 (f) & 22-26 (m) / WB 19-21 (f) & 20-24 (m)
      • Transition period between national level and international level podiums
      • Final phase of athletic preparation
    • Athletes must be capable of performance on demand
      • National Team high performance programs
      • Collegiate/University programs
      • Personal professional programs
ltad stages19
LTAD Stages

Top of the Wake

  • International excellence and podium performances at world championships
    • Ages: WS/BF 22+ (f) & 25+ (m) / WB 20+ (f) & 22+ (m)
      • All aspects of training are directed toward ensuring consistent performances at the highest level
      • Injury prevention and recovery strategies are crucial in this stage
    • Athlete assumes full responsibility for own performance and behaviour
      • WSWC National Team program
      • Personal professional program
ltad stages20
LTAD Stages

Active for Life

  • Enjoyment of lifelong physical activity and participation in sport and recreation
    • Ages: Enter at any age
      • Try a different discipline of the sport
      • Enter sport-related careers such as coaching, officiating, sport administration, etc.
    • A positive experience in sport is the key to retaining athletes after they leave the competition stream
      • Masters competitions
      • Recreational festivals
      • Club programs
ltad implementation
LTAD Implementation
  • Increase education and advocacy
    • Complete distribution of main “Waking Up Champions” document
    • Build dedicated web pages for parents to “find out more”
      • Coaching / Grassroots tournaments /Path to competition
    • Create an LTAD Executive Summary & 2 panel brochure
      • FUNdamentals & FUNdations
  • Re-alignment of water ski age divisions to better realize LTAD objectives
    • Boys/Girls I, II & III, Junior Men & Women, Under 21 Men
  • Created an Implementation Support Team
    • Formed in early April in Ottawa
    • 11 Representatives from BC to Nova Scotia
    • Tasked to identify and tackle the hurdles to LTAD implementation
  • Rip ‘n Ride
  • SkiAbility
  • NCCP Coaching
rip n ride
Rip ‘n Ride
  • Designed for FUNdamentals and FUNdations stages
    • Learn the basics in a fun environment
    • Receive useful feedback and experience early success
    • Focus on skills rather than competitions
  • Target markets are camps, schools and clubs
    • Creates opportunity for provincial organizations to provide service in exchange for membership
  • Where do we go from here?
    • No formal WSWC program for Build the Skills phase
    • Do we need a “Rip ‘n Ride Part II”?
      • What would that look like?
  • Active Start, FUNdamentals, FUNdations, Active for Life
    • Introduction to skills in a fun and safe environment
  • Focus on skill development rather than competitions
  • 2008 implementation milestones include:
    • Skill Progression Manual
      • Includes all divisions of adaptive water skiing
      • Coaching tips from FUNdamentals through to Top of the Wake
    • Coaching program
      • New SkiAbility coaching program developed with the CAC
      • Learning Facilitators trained in 7 provinces
nccp coaching
NCCP Coaching
  • Integration of NCCP Coaching into our LTAD model
    • Standardize and improve competency inside Technical Instructor & Intro to Competition coaching levels
      • Ensure consistency in delivery of FUNdamentals, FUNdations & Build the Skills
    • Increase number of “Learn To” instructors
      • 2008 - 200
      • 2009 - 250
      • 2010 - 275

Gaps in Program Structure

  • Gaps in program offerings that inhibit seamless flow of participants from one stage of development to another
    • What comes after Rip ‘n Ride?
      • No national program at the Build the Skills stage
    • Minimal provincial programs
      • Water Ski (BC, SK, QC)
      • Wakeboard (BC, AB, SK, QC)
      • Barefoot (BC)
      • Adaptive
    • Other gaps?

“Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half”Bum Phillips


Trends within WSWC Competitive Structure

  • Competitive Licensing
  • # of Sanctioned Tournaments
  • Participation at Regional / National Competitions

Discussion Group Topics

  • Water Ski Competitions
  • Moderator:Russ Dickson
  • Goal:To consider possible solutions to declining participation at Water Ski Regionals & Nationals
  • Questions to consider:
    • Should Regionals be eliminated?
    • Should attendance at Regionals be made a requirement to attend Nationals?
    • Should Westerns be split into 2 competitions (1 for BC/AB and another for SK/MB)?
    • Should Nationals be an “open” competition?
    • Who should be competing in the National Championships?
    • What time of year should Nationals and Regionals be held?

Discussion Group Topics

  • Where are the gaps?
  • Moderator:Matt Rini
  • Goal:Determine where there is a need for new or better integrated programs and identify some immediate next steps.
  • Questions to consider:
    • Where are the gaps? Which is most important to fill?
    • Do WSWC and the provincial associations have the capacity to develop and maintain additional programs?
    • Who should be involved in any program development?

Discussion Group Topics

  • LTAD Implementation for Wakeboard
  • Moderator: Barb March-Burwell
  • Goal:Determine some next steps to analyze the application of the LTAD.
  • Questions to consider:
      • Does LTAD apply to wakeboarding?
      • Does the current wakeboard structure fit within the principles of the LTAD?
      • Do current age category groupings adequately incorporate LTAD principles?

“My parents never pushed me into competition but were quite willing to support any high end sporting activity, providing I got good marks in school”George Athans