NATIONAL SPORT ORGANIZATIONS
• Children are your future, whether as elite athletes or as consumers of your products—everything from merchandise to tickets. An emphasis on fostering PL in all children through age 12 holds the promise of growing the base, improving general athleticism, keeping kids engaged longer in sports, reducing injuries, and enhancing the quality of those athletes who emerge as teenagers and present themselves for development in specific sports.
• Parents are concerned about the state of youth sports, including the injury risks and the emphasis on winning at all costs at the expense of fun. They want better for kids.
Sport-Specific Governing Bodies
• Support the adoption of the American Development Model (ADM) in each sport.
• Highlight the stories of Olympians, Paralympians, and other elite athletes who developed by playing a variety of sports.
• Hire diversity officers to develop efforts to engage underserved kids.
• Use sports science research and communications assets to take a leadership role in helping an industry built around the chase for the athletic scholarship (youth coaches, camps, parents, facility managers, tournament hosts, sponsors, and kids) understand the downstream hazards of early sport specialization and of not prioritizing PL.
• Integrate PL principles into coach training modules that can be delivered at low or no cost, especially in underserved communities.
• Encourage kids to sample a variety of sports through at least age 12.
• Share your most experienced and qualified coaches with lower-level teams.
• Encourage youth to participate in free/unstructured play.
• Rewrite incentive structures for coaches and programs based on kids’ growth in PL skills.
Lack of Direct Local Control
• National governing bodies have mixed degrees of influence over local sport providers, who often are unaware of recommended best practices. The result is a focus on winning games at the expense of developing fundamental movement and even sport-specific skills.
• Some for-profit, membership-based, single-sport programs need kids in the program year-round so they can afford to keep paid coaches on staff.
• Many parents/guardians buy the notion that the route to athletic success is through single-sport play from an early age.
Lack of Qualified Coaches
• Most coaches are not trained in the key competencies to work with youth, but they need to be to introduce PL concepts into practices.
LEADING THE WAY
In Canada, the most successful efforts around physical literacy have been framed in the context of a long-term athlete development (LTAD) model. LTAD also has inspired the American Development Model (ADM), which some national governing bodies (the groups that oversee their respective sports in the United States) already embrace as part of their grassroots sport participation efforts. USA Hockey has been the pioneer, making the development of physical literacy a chief goal in all children through age 12 under its version of ADM, which includes promoting multisport participation.