Swimming Canada Athlete Development Philosophy Hones In On ‘Mental Skills, Life Skills, Technical/Tactical/Strategic Competencies, Physical Capacity’

2020-10-16 Reading Time: 2 minutes
Maple Might: Kayla Sanchez, Penny Oleksiak, Rebecca Smith and Taylor Ruck (+ Mabel Zavaros) after gold in a World Junior Record 7:51.47 victory over 4x200m freestyle at world youth titles in 2017 - courtesy of Swimming Canada

Swimming Canada is beginning the phased release of its Appropriate Athlete Development (AAD) document and Athlete Development Matrix (ADM), with emphasis on “Mental Skills, Life Skills, Technical/Tactical/Strategic Competencies, and Physical Capacity”.

The philosophy and approach is explained by Swimming Canada in these terms:
The AAD and ADM are the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration between Swimming Canada, its provincial sections, the Canadian Swimming Coaches Association, and Sport for Life experts.
It provides a comprehensive overview of Appropriate Athlete Development, how High Performance sport fits in, and details key skills and behaviours in each of four pillars of the Athlete Development Matrix: Mental Skills, Life Skills, Technical/Tactical/Strategic Competencies, and Physical Capacity.

Swimming Canada Sport Development Director Suzanne Paulins said:

“Athlete development is rooted in human development. Every athlete is different and the ways they develop will vary. Well-informed coaches will appreciate this and be able to create experiences for their athletes that are appropriate for their development, and ensure everyone has the opportunity to progress.”

The Introduction to Appropriate Athlete Development document has been posted HERE and will be followed by monthly updates to the Learning Management System focused on each individual pillar, with the full AAD and ADM available in March. It is intended to help provincial sections, clubs and coaches further develop their programs across each stage of athlete development, and will influence future updates to the NCCP coach education and certification materials.
“It will be a living document that reflects current evidence,” Paulins said. “This gives us a road map for developing swimmers. It describes the observations, actions, and words we want them to display across each stage of development.’
The AAD and ADM evolved from what was formerly known as the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, and follow on the Competition Improvement Plan which was launched in 2016. It’s part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to align the sport at all levels.

Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson, said:

“The ADM will be critical for all involved in swimming and the development of athletes in the pathway. Our High Performance programs work to identify swimming talent on the pathway to performance and ensure the coaches across Canada have the skills to develop and nurture athletes. This is done to ensure swimmers receive what we now term Appropriate Athlete Development. This fits into the Podium Pathway and ultimately supports swimmers’ long-term development within our sport.”

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