North Florida Chapter Introduces FLYLax, Based on LTAD Development Model

via the USA Lacrosse North Florida Chapter

WHAT IS FLYLAX?

The Florida Youth Lacrosse (FLYLax) Development Program is a North Florida Chapter-sponsored and sanctioned program that offers a variety of opportunities for athletes interested in the comprehensive development of their athletic and lacrosse-specific skills. Based on the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model, participation is synchronized with the scientific stages of athletic development to ensure that each individual player receives training that fits their profile, capabilities, and aspirations – from youth development to high school competition, and college-level advancement, up to a lifetime of adult sports participation. 

State-wide Collaboration

Collaborating with youth recreation programs, and other committed stakeholders around the state, FLYLax provides a fun, exciting learning and development environment that expands physical literacy/athleticism, emotional, psychological, skill and sport IQ. FLYLax offers leagues, camps and clinics, tournaments, and an Annual Festival for youth athletes locally and around the State of Florida, making it an extremely convenient and accessible experience for all interested lacrosse athletes.

From Youth to Team USA and Beyond

An exciting feature unique to North Florida Chapter as a sponsored and sanctioned program, the state-wide FLYLax program offers a natural first-stage introduction to Team USA and the National Team Development Program (NTDP). Team USA players, coaches and officials will be invited to participate in FLYLax program activities including both the training and competition segments of the Annual Festival. 

FLYLAX OBJECTIVES – “WHERE YOUTH ATHLETES TAKE FLIGHT”

The FLYLax program is conceived, designed, organized and delivered to achieve the following objectives: 

  • Embrace the simple fact that sports participation, at any level and age, must always be fun first! There is a direct correlation between athletes that have tremendous success and those that have the most fun;
  • Treat children as unique individuals capable of developing, designing, and determining their own sports athletic experience and always remembering that comparison is the thief of joy;
  • Encourage each individual youth athlete to: a) choose which sports they sample; b) select other activities that build their skills and athleticism; and c) participate in total freedom from undue pressure to choose a sport or interest ahead of their awareness and known preferences and aptitudes;
  • Ensure that youth athletes (up to age 15) are served by coaches and organizations that are properly trained, informed and skilled in the various aspects and dimensions of long-term athlete development, and stay abreast of current science, research and technical tools that enhance coaching methods and practice;
  • Optimize the spectrum of youth athletic activities to include a combination of a) personal, independent play; b) casual, unstructured play; and c) a variety of structured, team-oriented sports;
  • Reach far beyond competition as the only aspect of a sports training program and instead properly scale and balance a multi-dimensional sports development program which emphasizes tailored practices focused on physical literacy and technical movement skills and solutions;
  • Build a set of character traits and values that promote compassion, hard work, persistence, altruism, humility, self-reliance, cheerfulness and constancy to friends;
  • Instill at the youth level, the importance of finding the right fit between each individual athlete and the various training programs, services, coaches, and activities from among which the athlete may choose.

TACTICAL PERIODIZATION MODEL FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

  • Font size refers to importance;
  • Light blue = preadolescent periods of adaptation;
  • Dark blue = adolescent periods of adaptation;
  • FMS = fundamental movement skills;
  • MC = metabolic conditioning;
  • PHV = peak height velocity;
  • SSS = sport-specific skills;
  • YPD = youth physical development;

FLYLAX LOCATIONS

All FLYLax programs and activities are offered at convenient, local sites around the State of Florida. Presently, events will be held regularly in the following geographic locations:

  • Jacksonville;
  • Orlando/Pensacola;
  • Gulf Coast (Tampa, Sarasota/Bradenton, Naples);

RATIONALE FOR FLYLAX INITIATIVE

Research suggests that the Elite/Pro Model just might be failing parents and their children. And there are reasonable concerns that force fitting youth athletes into professional-type training may be the least effective approach to developing youth for a lifetime of successful sport involvement. Of course, on its face, it sounds like a grand idea –  treat kids like they’re pros and watch them build the same skill set as their professional idols. But, closer examination reveals a deeper understanding of the real impact and dynamics of such an approach.

The evidence is compelling – and growing – that the Elite/Pro Model is ill-advised and possibly harmful. Up to now, the Elite/Pro Model has been the “only game in town.” But, an alternative concept has emerged that is proving globally to be empirically and anecdotally superior to such an approach.

CONCERNS WITH EXISTING ELITE/PRO MODEL

Most sports have experienced, at one time or another, flatline or even negative growth in player enrollment, participation and satisfaction. Research suggests that decades of entrenched conventional wisdom favoring pro/elite training of youth athletes has created myriad problems and issues regarding sports participation, retention, and injury, often with serious unintended consequences.

Reasons for the problems and dissatisfaction with the current pro/elite player development model include: a) obsession with early-stage developers/high performers at the exclusion of all other youth athletes; b) ripping these athletes from LTAD-based recreation programs designed to build youth skill, competency, and enjoyment; c) unduly pressuring them to specialize in one sport by pushing questionable and unproven elite-level “advantages”; and d) enticing qualified coaches to exclusively serve elite programs to the detriment of beneficial youth development programs. Individually and collectively, these dynamics form the basis of a system appears to be producing a limited and underprepared pool of athletes for higher-order competitive levels. 

Most players and families that have experience with Elite teams/programs will testify to the obstacles that interfere with participation, development and advancement. Some of these include:

  • Non-local activities – travel long distances for practices/tourneys
  • Difficult to access – “tryouts” artificially limit participation
  • Excessive cost – membership fees, tourney fees, travel, etc
  • Greater risk of overuse injuries – improper periodization
  • Lack of fun and enjoyment – unnecessary stress and pressure
  • Premature termination from program – quitting or being cut
  • Demand to specialize – multi-sport participation discouraged 
  • Extreme focus on competition and winning – inappropriate objective

Click HERE for a deep-dive into more information about the elite/pro model.

PARABLE OF THE ROSE

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development.

The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

THE FLYLAX PROGRAM

The FLYLax program is built on a set of fundamental principles. These guide curriculum development, program delivery, athlete management, and stakeholder education:

 Program Principles 

  • The program is athlete-centric and is structured to address physical, technical, mental, and emotional maturation and development;
  • Every component of the program (training, competition, and recovery) is evidence-based, extracting and applying best practices based on current research in design and delivery;
  • Training concepts adhere to sequential and progressive stages of development and implementation;
  • Education and communication in all aspects of athletic development is a fundamental precept of the program for coaches, parents, and athletes;

Based on these principles, the design of the FLYLax Program uses specific learning concepts to ensure maximal knowledge and skill acquisition. These include: 

Program Design

  1. We use structures and constraints in practice that look, feel, simulate and represent the game (Representative design) ;
  2. We expose athletes to a variety of movement solutions in random manner to facilitate the development of movement patterns adaptable to novel situations. We consider movement variations as the basis of learning rather than movement repetitions. By constantly (and randomly) changing the technique used to execute a skill, the athlete will: a) discover what works best for themselves, and b) learn to perform the skill in a multitude of ways (Differential learning);
  3. We control the amount and frequency of explicit feedback to allow the athlete to learn from their effort (Self-organized movement);
  4. We encourage new functional movement solutions (Manipulate constraints);
  5. We introduce simulated “noise” as interference to develop game level solutions and capabilities (Infuse movement disruptions). 

FLYLAX OFFERINGS

Leagues

USA Lacrosse-branded leagues using small-sides FLYLax model and concepts. Leagues are offered locally across the state and are delivered in collaboration with community lacrosse stakeholder organizations. Both the field and box varieties of the sport are offered as developmental experiences. Leagues are offered throughout the year.

Tournaments

USA Lacrosse-branded tournaments use the small-sides FLYLax model for competition. Events are conveniently offered locally across the state. and are delivered in collaboration with community lacrosse stakeholder organizations. Leagues are offered throughout the year.

Camps/Clinics

Based on the underlying principles of LTAD and FLYLax, camps and clinics are tailored to the learning priorities of youth athletes. On-site coaches represent the local community as well as nationally-recognized lacrosse experts from the Men’s and Women’s Team USA National Teams and college coaches. Offerings are delivered in a variety of formats throughout the year and include day and overnight camps at strategically-convenient locations. 

Annual Festival

Delivered convenient to Team USA selection and competition schedules, the Annual Festival is an event exclusively presented on behalf of youth athletes participating in the FLYLax program. 

Athlete Management System

Each FLYLax member receives access to the online platform that allows players to track many facets of their respective training and development activities and progress. The objective is to compile longitudinal data that can be used to assess progress, performance, comparative development and recruitment potential and interest.