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Swimming Canada amps up focus on ‘appropriate athlete development’

Swimming Canada is beginning the phased release of its Appropriate Athlete Development (AAD) document and Athlete Development Matrix (ADM), a culmination of years of work with partners.
Swimming Canada is beginning the phased release of its Appropriate Athlete Development (AAD) document and Athlete Development Matrix (ADM), a culmination of years of work with partners.

Swimming Canada is beginning the phased release of its Appropriate Athlete Development (AAD) document and Athlete Development Matrix (ADM).

The AAD and ADM are the culmination of years of 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.

“Athlete development is rooted in human development. Every athlete is different and the ways they develop will vary,” said Swimming Canada’s sport development director Suzanne Paulins. “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 and will be followed by monthly 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 (National Coaching Certification Program) 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 is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to align the sport at all levels.

“The ADM will be critical for all involved in swimming and the development of athletes in the pathway,” said high performance director John Atkinson. “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.”

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