Athletes need to train and compete according to training-to-competition ratios that develop skills and fitness while preventing injury and burnout. As well, the quality of competition and the timing of competitive events need to serve the needs of the athlete – not the needs of coaches, parents and administrators.

Science shows us that talent and ability are developed through thousands of hours of practice and training – whether it’s sport, music, art or mathematics. In Canadian sports, we often get the formula backwards, if we have any formula at all.  

Many sports reduce their training hours in favour of more games and competitive events, especially in youth sport where practice and skills learning is most important. They have inverted the “training to competition ratio.” 

At most stages of development, athletes should spend more hours training than competing. Precisely how much they should train and compete varies at each stage of development and differs according to different sports.

Training to competition ratios always aim to achieve optimal performance while avoiding athlete injury and burnout. At the same time, proper competition scheduling allows for tapering and peaking in the athlete’s cycle of training and competition. 

>> Learn about the next key factor: System Alignment and Integration