What We Do

There’s a NEW WAY to play sports. Sport Canada designed the Long Term Athlete Development Plan (LTAD), researched by physiologists, sports psychologists, elite coaches, kinesiologists and elite athletes.

Atlantic Stars Academy has studied the LTAD and has implemented it at the U6, U8 age groups (soccer and basketball) as well as the U10-12 age group for basketball. Most of the athletes who trained in the LTAD system and competed in Vancouver 2010 were from Ontario, Quebec and BC. Now it’s time that Nova Scotia athletes get access to this program and not just at the elite levels.

Playing Sports the Old Way – what we  DON’T do

 Are your kids playing sports the way you did when you were young? Our education system, communication systems and the economy have changed… and the way we play sports is changing.

  • Are your kids registered in traditional programs?
  • Do  you want to ensure your kids have a life-long and successful involvement in sports?
  • If they’re capable of making competitive or elite levels, do you want to make sure they have all the tools they need to make it to the highest level possible?
  • If your kids are capable of making competitive or elite levels, do you want to ensure they have the tools they need to make it to the highest level possible?

Sport Canada Creates a New Way

After being the only host country to fail to win a gold medal at the Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988 Olympics, Sport Canada created an initiative to win the most gold medals and be on top of the medal count in Vancouver called Own the Podium to determine the possibility of reaching this goal. It was determined Canada can win the most gold medals by changing how we play sports. The LTAD was born from this conclusion to develop athletes from age four to the Olympic level and as a result, Canada won 14 gold medals – more than any other country.

The Old Way…

  1. Register your kids in a little bit of everything to see what they like best.
  2. Enrol your kids in a sport you played.
  3. Register your kids in programs with friends.
  4. Get your kids into leagues so they can compete and score goals. Typically in Canada, kids are experiencing a 1:1 game to practice ratio.
  5. When your kids start to show talent or make a competitive team, THEN you start finding good training for them.
  6. Register your kids in summer camps for a week here, a week there to get the extra skills training they need.
  7. Register your kids in a club because its the biggest, best or has the most wins.
  8. Rely on knowledge you have from your own experience in sports to determine  a good program and how to train athletes.
  9. Register your kids on a team because you’re the coach (or your friend is going to be the coach).

Result of Doing it the Old Way

  • 75% of kids are quitting sports at age 12.
  • Incidence of injury in youth sport is increasing.
  • Canada fails to produce internationally successful athletes as consistently as European and Asian countries.
  • 50% of elite athletes quit either their sport or school because they cannot do both effectively.

The NEW Way

Our results at the Vancouver Olympics speak for themselves. The new way of playing sports works. We won 26 medals, 14 of them were gold; period. Many people talk about the LTAD but few actually know what it is and even fewer actually implement it.

What IS the LTAD?

The LTAD radically changes how sport is being played in Canada and we should adopt this approach to help Nova Scotians compete successfully and promote a lifelong involvement in sport.

Are you ready for the LTAD? Atlantic Stars Academy is different; our programs are run by professionals who have researched and implemented the LTAD. Here are the results of the LTAD research done by Sport Canada.

Competition vs. Training

Old Way:

  • Over-competition, under-training.
  • Our kids have a practice to game ratio of 1:1. Studies have shown this to cause higher injury rate, decreased technical development and higher burnout.
  • Skill development and improvement doesn’t happen in games, it happens through practice with professionals who know how to develop athletes. 

New Way:

  • U10 – training only, competition is in the form of challenging drills and innovative small sided games
  • U13 – 70% training, 30% competition
  • U17 – 60% training, 40% competition
  • U23 – 40% training, 60% competition
  • 25+ – 25% training, 75% competition

Quality of Training and Instruction

Old Way:

  • Training of young athletes done by non-professional volunteers who do not understand long-term development and the technical aspects of teaching skills.
  • No comprehensive, progressive training where skill building is researched, methodical and intentional. Kids are registered for a week of summer camp, another program for the summer and a different program for the winter.
  • As a result there is no consistency in skill development, no cohesive plan for developing the athlete over the long-term and no accountability! 

New Way:

  • Programs where the same staff of coaches monitors and tracks the athletes through their progress technically, physically, mentally and tactically.
  • Progress reports are issued to parents and athletes so they understand what is being taught and where progress is happening.
  • Athletes are joining one club/academy that offers services where all their developmental needs are met and monitored over the long-term.

Physical Literacy

Physical literacy includes:

  • agility
  • coordination
  • balance
  • speed
  • strength
  • power
  • endurance

Athlete must have a solid base in all movement patterns in order to be successful in the future.

  • jumping
  • leaping
  • bending
  • twisting
  • running
  • walking
  • sprinting

Old Way:

  • Components of physical literacy are unknown or misunderstood by volunteer coaches and not taught effectively.
  • Since Canadian athletes do not have the foundation the European and Asian athletes do, we are not succeeding at international levels on a consistent basis.
  • Kids reach teen years, do not have the physical literacy base required to continue improving so they get discouraged and quit.

New Way:

  • Professional, knowledgeable coaches teach physical literacy starting at age four continuing through the developmental years.   

Windows of Training

The physical literacy components are best developed in specific windows of time in the development of an athlete. The best coaches and programs plan when to introduce and train each component that an athlete needs in order to achieve maximum potential

An example of one of those window of training is at age 6-10 during which it is the optimal time to teach agility, coordination and balance. After 10 years old the results are minimal. This means that if an athlete is not provided agility, coordination and balance training before age 10, they will not reach their maximium potential. Similarly, the optimum time to teach basic skill techniques such as passing, shooting and dribbling is 7-8 years old. The optimum window for teaching quick reflexes and responses is at age 6-8. Are your kids getting the training they need to reach their maximum potential?

Old Way:

  • Coaches simply teach game strategies (tactical component) and sometimes a little skill development (technical component). No other components are considered.

New Way:

  • Knowledgeable coaches are assigned to even the youngest age groups to develop all the components in the optimum training windows. This
    ensures each kid will reach their maximum potential down the road reaching higher competitive levels.
  • Kids stay in sports longer because they aren’t discouraged when the can no longer play at a proficient level.

Peaking by Friday

Old Way:

  • Coaches and parents are intent on winning the game this weekend and all practices are focused on scoring.

New Way:

  • Knowledgeable coaches focus on long-term development of physical, technical, tactical and mindset components during practices.
  • Training to win now is DIFFERENT than training to win down the road when it really matters at varsity, national and international levels.
  • Short term winning defeats comprehensive long term skill development.

Early Specialization

There are a few sports that require early specialization: figure skating, gymnastics and table tennis. Early specialization sports require a four-phase development system where all other sports require six phases.

Old Way:

  • Kids are encouraged to specialize in one or two sports early on.
  • Protégés showing promise or above average ability are funneled into elite programs focusing on one sport.
  • Athltes specializing too early peak at the junior level and burn out before they make it to the senior level. (Nagori – 1978, Russia).
  • Early successful performers miss important long-term developmental exercises focusing on the outcome and not the process, (Cote and Hay – 2001,USA).

New Way:

  • Athletes play a variety of sports gaining more well-rounded development.
    and experience.
  • The base of sports the athlete can specialize in is increased and they have not lost any opportunities, in fact they have greater advantages.
  • The best athletes started out in sports at age 7-8 focusing on general development (soccer, athletics, swimming, cycling, gymnastics. (Nagori – 1978, USSR). 

Talent Identification

Old Way:

  • Selection of athletes is made by competition.
  • At younger ages we hold tryouts the same as we do for senior competitive levels. The athlete that makes the division 1 team is the
    one who can score the most goals, stop the most goals, and/or is the fastest runner/skater.

New Way:

  • First of all athletes are not tiered for the purpose of competimg until age 10. Prior to this age there is no focus on competition.
  • Athletes are selected based on their teach-ability, problem solving
    ability, focus, concentration and team dynamics followed by physical stature, agility, coordination, balance. These are the athletes that will make it to elite in the long run because their mental capacity is stronger and they are able to survive/succeed.
  • Some cultures teach the psychological components at young ages so they are able to determine these capabilities at a young age. In Canada we do not have this luxury so selection of athletes must take place at older ages.

Adult Training and Competition

Old Way:

  • Kids are playing on adult-sized playing surfaces with adult-sized equipment, and adult rules.
  • As parents and coaches we want to see kids advance quickly and “get into the game” quickly.
  • We teach kids the way we were taught.

New Way:

  • Playing surfaces are downsized proportionately. Ball sizes, net dimensions, and equipment are reduced to manageable sizes. Balls are deflated  for greater manageability.
  • Rules are made simpler to keep the game moving and more fun.
  • Games are modified to encourage development. ie: and extra point is awarded each time a team makes three passes in a row.

Educate Parents About LTAD

Old Way:

  • Long-term athlete development was not promoted in Canada. Parents were not informed of its importance, advantages and results.
  • Decisions on athlete development were made with limited knowledge.

New Way:

  • Parents understand the basics of LTAD and search out programs that follow it so their kids are developed properly reducing risk of quitting and increasing chances of competing at higher levels successfully.
  • Knowledgeable coaches are designing training programs and making decisions to guide the athlete to success.
  • Programs are athlete centered, coach administered, parent and officials supported.


  1. Iowa State University, Study on Success in Sports in North America, 2009
  2. A. Junge – British Journal of Sports Medicine
  3. Own the Podium research study, 2004
  4. Nagori – 1978, Russia
  5. Cote and Hay – 2001,USA