The Canadian Sport for Life movement (CS4L) and the Long-Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) use a special vocabulary, and sometimes the terms become a bit technical. Here’s a guide to some of the key terms you might encounter.

Active for Life is a movement within Sport for Life in which Canadians become active for life by developing physical literacy. Along with physical literacy and sport excellence, Active for Life is one of CS4L’s three key outcomes. This stage can be entered at any age, beginning with developing physical literacy in infancy, and evolves to being Competitive for Life and/or Fit for Life through all phases of adulthood.

Adaptation refers to a response to a stimulus or a series of stimuli that induces functional and/or morphological changes in the organism. Naturally, the level or degree of adaptation is dependent upon the genetic endowment of an individual. However, the general trends or patterns of adaptation are identified by physiological research, and guidelines are clearly delineated of the various adaptation processes, such as adaptation to muscular endurance or maximum strength.

Adolescence is a difficult period to define in terms of the time of its onset termination. During this period, most bodily systems become adult both structurally and functionally. Structurally, adolescence begins with an acceleration in the rate of growth in stature, which marks the onset of the adolescent growth spurt. The rate of statural growth reaches a peak, begins a slower or decelerative phase, and finally terminates with the attainment of adult stature. Functionally, adolescence is usually viewed in terms of sexual maturation, which begins with changes in the neuroendocrine system prior to overt physical changes and terminates with the attainment of mature reproductive function.

Ancillary capacities refer to the knowledge and experience base of a player and includes warm-up and cool-down procedures, stretching, nutrition, hydration, rest, recovery, restoration, regeneration, mental preparation, and taper and peak.

The more knowledgeable players are about these training and performance factors, the more they can enhance their training and performance levels. When athletes reach their genetic potential physiologically cannot improve anymore, performance can be improved by using the ancillary capacities to full advantage.

Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) is a movement to improve the quality of sport and physical activity in Canada.  It links sport, education, recreation and health, and aligns community, provincial and national programming. CS4L’s vision is quality programs for all Canadians based on developmentally appropriate sport and physical activity. CS4L’s mission is to improve the health, wellness, and sporting experiences of all Canadians by advancing physical literacy, improving performance and increasing life-long participation in physical activity. When enacted, CS4L’s values and principles  link and integrate programs delivered by health, recreation, education and sport, and align programming in clubs, provincial/territorial and national sport and multisport organizations. CS4L addresses the overarching system and structure of sport and physical activity in Canada, including the relationship between school sport, physical education and organized sport at all levels, from policy to program delivery.

Childhood ordinarily spans the end of infancy – the first birthday – to the start of adolescence and is characterized by relatively steady progress in growth and maturation and rapid progress in neuromuscular or motor development. It is often divided into early childhood, which includes preschool children aged 1 to 5 years, and late childhood, which includes elementary school-age children, aged 6 through to the onset of adolescence.

Chronological age simply refers to the number of years and days elapsed since birth. Children of the same chronological age can differ by several years in their developmental age, including degree of physical maturation.

Competitive for Life, within Active for Life, is a seventh LTAD stage of CS4L, where Canadians are active for life through participation in competitive sport.

Developmental age refers to the individual’s degree of physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional maturity. Physical developmental age is determined by skeletal maturity, or bone age, after which mental, cognitive, and emotional maturity are incorporated.

Development refers to the interrelationship between growth and maturation over the passage of time. In addition to physical changes, the concept of child development includes social, emotional, intellectual, and motor development.

Fit for LIfe, within Active for Life, is a seventh LTAD stage of CS4L, where Canadians are active for life through participation in recreational physical activity.

Growth refers to measurable changes in body size such as changes in height, weight, and percentage of body fat.

Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a seven-stage training, competition, and recovery pathway guiding an individual’s experience in sport and physical activity from infancy through all phases of adulthood. LTAD is athlete centered, coach driven, and administration, sport science, and sponsor supported. Sequential stages in the LTAD pathway provide developmentally appropriate programs for all ages to increase participation and optimize performance. Key to LTAD is a holistic approach that considers mental, cognitive and emotional development in addition to physical development, so each athlete develops as a complete person. Based on CS4L principles, LTAD, in a sport-specific context, promotes system alignment and integration between sport club, provincial/territorial and national sport organizations.

Maturation refers to qualitative structural and functional changes as a child progresses toward maturity. One example would be the change of cartilage to bone in the skeleton.

Peak height velocity (PHV) is the maximum rate of growth in stature during growth spurt. The age of maximum increase in growth is called the age at PHV.

Peak weight velocity (PWV) is the maximum rate of increase in weight during the growth spurt. The age of maximum increase in weight is called the age at PWV.

Physical literacy is the development of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit a child to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity, rhythmic (dance) and sport situations. Physical literacy also includes the ability to “read” what is going on around them in an activity setting and react appropriately to those events. 

Puberty refers to the point at which an individual is sexually mature and able to reproduce.

Readiness refers to the child’s level of growth, maturity, and development that enables him/her to perform tasks and meet demands through training and competition. Readiness and critical periods of trainability during growth and development of young athletes are also referred to as the correct time for the programming of certain stimuli to achieve optimum adaptation with regard to motor skills, muscular and/or aerobic power.

Sensitive period of accelerated adaptation to training refers to a point in the development of a specific capacity (e.g. stamina, strength, speed, skill, suppleness) when experience or training has a marked effect on its development.

Skeletal age refers to the maturity of the skeleton determined by the degree of ossification of the bone structure. It is a measure of age that takes into consideration how far given bones have progressed toward maturity, not in size, but with respect to shape and position to one another.

Trainability refers to the genetic endowment of athletes as they respond individually to specific stimuli and adapt to it accordingly. Malina and Bouchard (1991, 2004) defined trainability as “the responsiveness of developing individuals at different stages of growth and maturation to the training stimulus.”

Training age refers to the number of years an athlete has been training in a variety of sports, beginning with the early sampling years.