Research digest series:

Youth Athlete Development

Long-Term Participant Development (LTPD) is a comprehensive framework in sports that guides athletes from early childhood to adulthood, focusing on their physical, mental, and emotional development. It emphasizes age-appropriate skill progression, avoiding early specialization, and nurturing physical literacy in young athletes. LTPD also underscores the importance of mental toughness, emotional intelligence, and a lifelong passion for the sport, making it a holistic approach to producing well-rounded athletes.

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What's included in this Research Digest Series?

Research Digest: Youth Athlete Development

Ultimately, the LTPD contributes to the well-rounded development of athletes, producing both successful competitors and individuals with valuable life skills.
  • 4 Chapters
  • 7 Videos
  • 1 PDF

Purpose of understanding Youth Athlete Development

Ensuriung that athletes receive appropriate training, support, and guidance at every stage of their development, with a focus on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being is important during sport participation and physical activity. As per the Long-Term Participant Development Model by SASCOC,  it describes that successful athletes are  people who lead healthy active and balanced lifestyles.


Understanding the different phases involved in athletic development while referencing the Long-Term Participant Development Model is beneficial because it provides both a structured and holistic approach to athletic performance, growth and development, the 7 stages of the LTPD and Talent Identification. Appropriate understanding of Youth Athlete Development and the LTPD helps coaches, parents and athletes in preventing injuries, fostering mental resilience, and nurturing a lifelong passion for sport.

Course Lessons



Meet our SSISA Research Digest team

Warren Lucas

Research and partnerships Manager

Warren Lucas is an Accredited Sport Scientist (SASMA), completing a PhD in Exercise Science at the University of Cape Town. His research is focused on designing patient-centred exercise interventions for youth with substance use and mental health conditions in treatment settings. His supervisors are Dr. Sharief Hendricks and Prof. Vicki Lambert (HPALS UCT). 

Evan Knight

Research Consultant

Evan Knight is an Exercise Scientist with an MSc in Exercise Physiology from the Stellenbosch. University. He works as a Research Consultant at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and his research is focused on biomarkers and the intercellular adaptation and communication following different endurance running training regimes in elite runners. 

Devon Da Costa

Research consultant & lecturer

Devon Da Costa is a Qualified Biokineticist completing a PhD in Exercise Science at the University of Cape Town. She works as a Research Consultant and Lecturer at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Her research is focused on fuelling endurance sports performance through a variety of different dietary and supplementation strategies. She is supervised by Associate Prof Andrew Bosch (HPALS UCT). 

Tim Klein

Research Consultant & Sport Scientist

Tim Klein is an Exercise Scientist who is currently completing an MSc in Exercise Science at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses primarily on the effects of resistance training on cycling performance. His research is supervised by Associate Prof. Mike Posthumus and Dr. Caroline D’Alton (HPALS UCT). 

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