Green & Gold Philosophy

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The Green & Gold Sport System represents a coordinated approach to developing athletes from grassroots participation to the elite level of sport. Built around the principles of the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) framework and other academically recognized models such as the Developmental Model of Sport Participation and Positive Youth Development, our camps and programs feature age-appropriate opportunities for participation across a variety of sports. Our system has been designed to address some of the issues that currently affect youth sport. Young athletes are being forced to specialize in one sport much earlier than in the past, thereby limiting their ability to acquire the broad range of fundamental movement skills that serve as the foundation for overall athleticism. Early specialization in a single sport at the expense of participation in other activities has also been shown to potentially lead to overuse injuries and athlete burnout in some cases.

Early specialization in a single sport at the expense of participation in other activities has also been shown to potentially lead to overuse injuries and athlete burnout in some cases. 

Our response to these trends is to feature multi-sport participation throughout the Green & Gold Sport System programming to ensure our athletes are prepared to explore, engage and excel in any sport they choose to pursue. All of our camps and programs include a multi-sport component to provide athletes with a complete training experience. The lesson plans and curricula for our programs are designed to enhance their physical and mental skills based on their current stage of development. Multi-sport exposure is not only important for young athletes searching for a sport to play, but also for elite athletes attempting to improve in a sport they’ve been competing in for years. Improving fundamental movement skills, including those associated with an athlete’s sport of choice as well as those skills that aren’t, will help all athletes regardless of the sport they play. An example of this theory in practice is working on kicking with tennis athletes. Even though kicking is not one of the fundamental movement skills associated with the game of tennis, by working on that skill, tennis players will improve their agility and footwork thereby helping them excel on the court.

The sports in our system are broadly classified into Early-Entry, Mid-Entry and Late-Entry categories. These distinctions are based on when the majority of participants begin playing each sport while acknowledging that each sport differs in terms of when most participants need to begin playing in order to have an opportunity to reach the highest levels of competition. This structure makes it possible for young athletes with elite aspirations to identify sports throughout their developmental years that best suit their current age and skill set. The nature of an athlete’s involvement in a particular sport has been defined as a 3-step process: Explore, Engage and Excel. These steps relate to an athlete’s level of experience with the sport and the amount of time they are prepared to dedicate to training and competition.

Table Title: Nature of Sport Involvement, Explaining our Levels of Explore, Engage, Excel.
Nature of Sport Involvement Required Sport-Specific Experience Intensity of Commitment
Explore No Experience Necessary Initial Exposure
Engage Some Competitive Experience (house leagues) Increased Exposure
Excel High Level Competitive Experience (club teams) Immersive Exposure

This progression is designed to give young athletes the opportunity to participate systematically in a variety of sports throughout their adolescence and young adulthood with an understanding of broader competitive patterns and expectations. Our system emphasizes the importance of building a strong general athletic foundation through multi-sport involvement that will complement any athlete’s sport-specific pursuits regardless of the nature of their involvement in any given sport.

The Green & Gold Sport System is committed to the development of the whole athlete beyond the base physical and athletic needs that participation in sport requires. Supporting the mental wellness of athletes in our programs is critically important and our approach features teaching methods adapted to the age of the participants. Opportunities to teach life skills such as respect and teamwork are embedded throughout the curriculum in our programs to help prepare young athletes for the challenges they will face in sport. As our athlete's progress towards more elite competition, performance related mental skills such as confidence, focus and resilience are highlighted to ensure our athletes are ready to perform in the heat of competition. Caring for the mental health of our athletes goes beyond improving competitive results. The design of our system seeks to provide our participants with balance and self-compassion in their lives through empathetic scheduling and coaching. It is our hope and intention to help our athletes reap all the benefits that sport can provide.

Participation in sport can be a powerful experience for young athletes that can have a positive impact on their long term physical and mental development. The Green & Gold Sport System provides a path for athletes that draws upon the knowledge and resources of the University of Alberta and avoids the potential pitfalls typically associated with youth sport.