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Sport schools focus on excellence and development.
Working within high schools, and sometimes elementary and middle schools, school sport academies and sport schools promote athletic excellence through specialized coaching and training. However, work is still needed to harmonize their efforts with the LTAD models of each sport’s national governing body.
In Canada, sport schools and school sport academies are a recent innovation. Over the past decade, school districts in many provinces have expanded program options to include sport-specific academies.
School sport academies are providing an enriched training environment for student athletes in sports ranging from figure skating to soccer and baseball. Much of the growth in sport schools has been driven by districts and schools recognizing the revenue potential of specialty academies in a period of policy deregulation and a declining student population.
However, with the exception of hockey, the academies have been created separate from the sport system and their national sport organization. In most instances, the sport-specific academies have not been aligned with the long-term athlete development (LTAD) pathways of their sports.
The notable exception is Quebec’s comprehensive network of sport étude programs, where linkages have been made with national and provincial sport organizations to ensure developmentally appropriate LTAD training and competition.
As schools move forward with sport academy programming, more effort needs to be directed to harmonizing school academy training and competition with the sport-specific LTAD guidelines.
For more information read the Sport Schools in Canada report.