During the Learn to Train stage (females 8-11, males 9-12), children should be converting their fundamental movement skills into fundamental sport skills. This stage is “The Golden Age of Learning” for specific sport skills.
Children in the Learn to Train stage are ready to begin training according to more formalized methods. However, the emphasis should still be on general sports skills suitable to a number of activities.
As well, a greater amount of time should be spent training and practicing skills than competing.
It may be tempting to specialize at this age through excessive single sport training or early position specialization in team sports. This should be avoided in most sports.
Inappropriate or premature specialization can be detrimental to later stages of athlete development if the child is playing a late specialization sport. Premature specialization promotes one-sided development and increases the likelihood of injury and burnout. For this reason it is healthy for children in this stage to explore different athletic options and be involved in a variety of sport programs.
For more information on this stage, please visit the Canadian Sport for Life website.