The reality of the LTAD model within one women’s artistic gymnastics club in East Wales: a critical investigation of the applicability of the LTAD in relation to participation and elite opportunities in gymnastics
University of Wales
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Like many national governing bodies within the UK, Welsh Gymnastics (along with British Gymnastics) have adopted its own version of a development model called the Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) (Balyi, 1990; Balyi, 2001; Hamilton & Balyi, 2004), which is currently acknowledged throughout UK sport (DCMS, 2002; Bramham and Hylton, 2008). The LTAD as adopted by Welsh Gymnastics (British Gymnastics, 2006) currently models the opportunities for athletes to take part in gymnastics in Wales and the opportunities to reach elite level. With little research support undertaken on the LTAD (Bramham and Hylton, 2008) to date, the aim of this study was to critically examine the model, in order generate suggestions on increasing the number of participants participating in gymnastics, and to increase the number of elite gymnasts and encourage long term participation. Through conducting semi-structured interviews with women’s artistic gymnastics coaches (n=6) from one gymnastics club in East Wales, it was possible to provide a relevant, in-depth discussion of the applicability and effectiveness of the LTAD model within Welsh Gymnastics. Highlighted in the discussion was the apparent disparity of opportunities on the elite pathway and recreational pathway, along with unrealistic coaching suggestions at each stage of the LTAD. With the linear progression of the LTAD viewed as unrealistic, due to the training hours suggested at each stage of development and the coaching suggestions, analysing the LISPA model (National overcame the issue of having multiple pathways of participation. Similar links Coaching Training Centre [NCTC], 2004) provided a more realistic model, which between the LISPA model and the new proposed Participant Development Model for gymnastics (presented in the UK Coaching Framework - North, 2009) were made. With this proposed Participant Development likely to be implemented in British and Welsh Gymnastics, further research is suggested on the applicability of the model within Welsh Gymnastics, along detailed monitoring and evaluation of the model, and to provide the multiple opportunities illustrated by the models (Balyi, 1990; Balyi, 2001; Hamilton & Balyi, 2004; NCTC, 2004; North, 2009).
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