The Youth Physical Development Model

I came across a few articles in the most recent Strength & Conditioning Journal regarding youth agility training & the factors that go into gaining and improving these abilities. It led me to an article from June 2012 that I found interesting and also encouraging in terms of the direction we’re heading regarding youth/adolescent training. Previously, most training recommendations were made based purely on age, with little attempt to quantify the true physical maturation of a child or adolescent. The old model clearly had many flaws, but this new YPD (Youth physical development) model takes a lot more factors into consideration, and is based largely on when a child reaches peak height velocity and peak weight velocity, along with puberty.

I don’t want to summarize the whole article, but I do have it downloaded in pdf for anyone that wants it [just shoot me a comment or an email]. I really just wanted to share these two graphics that help explain what areas a child’s “training” should be focused on in order to develop to their full athletic potential.

Strength & Conditioning Journal: June 2012 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 61–72

Strength & Conditioning Journal:
June 2012 – Volume 34 – Issue 3 – p 61–72


A similar chart for females:

Strength & Conditioning Journal: June 2012 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 61–72

Strength & Conditioning Journal:
June 2012 – Volume 34 – Issue 3 – p 61–72


The thing most noteworthy for trainers:

-FMS (functional movement screens / mobility) are important, but never the primary focus of a training program. Even in the early stages of development, where training has low structure, the child is learning to develop agility, speed, power and strength simultaneously – and all components are important.

-This spectrum helps trainers decide what category a late developing or early developing child would be in & what components might be more important to emphasize (vs just relying on physical age & “training age”)

-Agility is an under researched component, but may need to be trained & then re-trained after peak height velocity is reached. Agility requires a large neural component (decision making, reaction time) that develops with a child’s maturity. The patterns can be established and trained early, with repeatability helping to form those neural connections, but it may need to be re-visited later if there is a significant growth spurt or change in physical development.

-High intensity metabolic training/endurance training is very low on the priority list until later years/higher structure training. With all the bootcamp trends popping up lately, it is important to remember that children are not “mini adults” and therefore shouldn’t be trained in the same fashion. We have come to terms with the fact that strength training (when done properly) is not going to damage limbs or stunt growth, but it is important to focus on the needs of the development child/athlete and not give them a workout targeted at people looking to lose weight.

-There is predictably a shift in maturity & age when it comes to females vs. males, but the training necessities when they DO reach PHV remain the same.

I like that this model seems to have more of an individualized approach when it comes to assessing a child’s readiness for training and I hope it becomes studied more, tweaked, and eventually widely accepted as a new standard for training.

About sten06

Master's in Kinesiology: Strength & Conditioning BSed in Exercise physiology -NSCA CSCS -NASM CPT, PES -Varsity Lacrosse Coach Saving the world one workout at a time ;)

Posted on July 20, 2013, in Fitness, Lacrosse, Strength & Conditioning, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Just to clarify terms, the FMS in these charts refers to Fundamental Movement Skills, not Fundamental Movement Screen. sten06 is correct in her assertions about how to use a screen in general, but I am confused about why it is being used for kids at all.

    Here is a definition of a FMS as it commonly is referred to in motor control and acquisition literature.

    • Hi grant!

      Within the scope of the article, you are correct, they refer to “FMS” as functional movement skills, and discuss how and when we can expect to see kids develop these necessary motor patterns. In terms of my comments about the functional movement screen and mobility skills, I was commenting on the fact that ONLY training for functional movement or ONLY relying on a “functional movement screen” to track these patterns is not appropriate for youth participants. They need to be working on a variety of different components to make sure they develop evenly. In other words, because they are in the “functional movement skills” phase of development, you aren’t simply going to ignore everything else just to focus on one thing. They are learning to develop agility, speed, strength and power simultaneously. Sorry for the confusion.

      Also important to note: They were NOT using an “FMS” screen on these kids in the article…however, depending on the phase of development a youth participant is in, some information could theoretically be gathered using an FMS on14-15 year olds. If they are at a certain phase of development, it would not hurt. In fact, I would recommend that type of testing vs a 1RM test any day.

  2. Well false dilemma of FMS vs 1RM test aside, I think the most important notion that this article brings to light is the order that things should be trained and that while gains can be made in all components of performance simultaneously, how we train young children should be from a stability or strength/FMS first mindset. The old LTAD model had far too much riding on the flawed idea of windows of train-ability that were never really proven scientifically and misled some to focus on the chronological window rather than holistic development. So while I agree that we would not want to put all your eggs in the FMScreen basket, when starting with Youth clients, it is essential to ensure that the requisite strength for speed, agility and power to be developed safely. So the ‘Initial Training Status’ section of the Lloyd and Oliver article is in my opinion the most relevant to the day to day decision making of a S&C coach. They conclude that if you have an athlete who has missed windows and is behind other kids who are close to adulthood, then starting at the FMSkills/strength development phase is appropriate. Because speed, power and agility (sport specific power) are all strength dependent for safety (velocity always adds risk and load) and strength increases the performance gains in the other aspects, this is essential for training to be both safe and effective.

    My own opinion is that some FMSkills should not be pursued without being cleared by an expert first in many cases or should at least be taught by someone who understands biomechanics with the attention to detail and power to regress a participant who is compromising joint integrity through their flawed movement patterns. And that one day S&C coaches or the similarly skilled will be ‘gatekeepers’ for sport participation rather than brought into the fold far too late.

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