By Andrew Mitchell
It has been estimated that it takes a minimum of 10 years or
10,000 hours of dedicated training to become an elite, Olympic-calibre athlete.
But that’s not entirely the point of a new program launched by Canadian Sport
Centres called Canadian Sport For Life.
CSFL is a seven-stage program for athlete development, starting
at the very youngest ages. Each level represents a different stage in an
athletes’ physical, mental, emotional and cognitive development. There are also
stages for adaptive athletes with a wide range of disabilities.
Children and adolescents are the main focus of the program as
those years are crucial to developing future champions, although the long-term
goal of the program is to ensure that Canadians remain active their entire
The new program will be introduced in Whistler on Friday, June
22, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin. PacificSport Sea
to Sky, which represents Canadian Sport Centres regionally, has enlisted
provincial sport performance director and strength and conditioning specialist
Cindy Thomson to explain to the public how the program works. The event is free
to the public, and recommended for all coaches, parents, physical educators,
and everyone involved in sport.
“This is the system that Canada is using to make sure there’s a
straight line of integration between the national, provincial and regional
sport systems for every sport,” explained Tami Mitchell, regional coordinator
for PacificSport Sea to Sky. “This is not only for high performance athletes,
it’s also about active living. Of the seven stages of this plan the last is
about staying active after your days of competitive sports may be over.”
Sports organizations and athletes at every level were consulted
in creating the CSFL framework, and it will serve as the backbone for all sport
organizations as they establish their own coaching certifications and development
The first stage of the program is called Active Start,
referring to kids aged 6 and under. This stage emphasizes the general physical
and mental benefits of physical activity, and includes a list of general
guidelines for parents and recreational organizations to get kids active. There
is also an emphasis on basic skills development, including the basics of
running, jumping, twisting, wheeling, kicking, throwing and catching.
The FUNdamental stage is geared for boys 6 to 9 and girls 6 to
8, ages when most kids master the fundamental movements required by sports and
begin to focus more on skills development. It’s at this age where athletes can
be taught the proper techniques and can start to be identified as potential
high performance athletes on the basis of their trainability. It’s also the age
where kids should play a wide range of sports and will begin to compete in
their preferred sports.