Getting Going! (Paul Jurbala)


In my last post I briefly described how an organization’s LTAD plan is, in fact, the foundation of their broader strategic plan. Integrating CS4L-LTAD into strategic and operational planning is indeed a way to introduce and integrate LTAD into the life of the organization, but it is not the first step. And there must be a first step!

As I work with sport organizations at all levels- National Sport Organizations (NSOs), Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (P/TSOs) and Community Sport Organizations (CSOs, or Clubs) the challenge of how to get going inevitably arises. I’ve developed some simple strategies for getting going, and I invite my colleagues who do organizational development work to chime in as well.

Here are a few of my tips:

  1. Stop lecturing. In the early days (about five years ago!) each organization was introduced to CS4L-LTAD with a three-hour-long Powerpoint presentation. This left the impression that LTAD was incredibly complex and accessible only to those with advanced sport science degrees. Better to lead with a brief description touching on the key principles and values!
  2. Invite discussion right away. If you ask organization leaders to tell a story that epitomizes their organization and open a discussion of what could be done better, they usually begin designing a LTAD-like model by themselves. When they come to understand CS4L-LTAD is a road map to where they already want to go, it’s exciting.
  3. Just use the stage names. When organization leaders develop an understanding of CS4L-LTAD as an effective framework for their sport, the next challenge is how to communicate it within. The most frequent message I hear is, “WE get it…but THEY (the next group over…the Clubs, the coaches, the parents…) DON’T.” How to get them to get it? The idea of herding “them” into a room for the three-hour presentation never seems to fly. My suggestion: start branding events like clinics and competitions with the LTAD stage names: “This clinic is for our Learn to Train athletes” or “This competition is appropriate for T2T and A4L participants”. People are curious and hate to feel out of the loop: they will want to know exactly what “T2T” is!
  4. Don’t put all the eggs in the LTAD basket. Better to say “we’re introducing some advanced player development techniques into our programs” than to brand every change as “LTAD”. Since LTAD is a broad framework, people may tend to identify the one change they don’t like with LTAD, rather than the dozen common-sense changes they do like. Sell each change on its own merits, not as part of a master plan. People are wary of master plans they don’t understand yet.

This year at the 2012 Canadian Sport for Life Summit, there will be Messenger Training sessions. These sessions will provide you with the tools to go out into your organization, club, community, etc., and feel comfortable speaking about Canadian Sport for Life and long-term athlete development. I hope to see you there!


Paul Jurbala

Paul Jurbala is a member of the Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team. He has worked in sport for 30 years, and now runs his own consulting and management business, communityactive consulting. He has developed strategic plans, LTAD plans, Competition Reviews and High-Performance Program Reviews for National and Provincial Sport and Multi-Sport Organizations. Paul holds a M.Sc. degree in Exercise Physiology and is currently studying in the PhD program in Sport Management at Brock University, where his focus is change and decision-making in sport organizations.