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What is Multi-Lateral Development?
Multi-lateral development is a very important component of any long-term training program.
This type of training can be defined as “overall development” which means that this training develops a wide range of motor abilities and does not concentrate on one specifically.
This in turn allows for a broad range of motor skill development that becomes the basic requirement to reach a highly specialized level of physical preparation and technical mastery within a given sport.
The multi-lateral training period allows for a visual representation of how the long-term development of an athlete’s motor abilities should take place. The base of the pyramid (Figure 1) or foundation of any training program shows an emphasis on multi-lateral development.
The Second Phase - Specialized Training
When this development reaches a certain level, especially physical development, the athlete enters the second phase of development which is specialized training.
After this specialized training, the athlete then progresses to the pinnacle of their career which is typically termed, high performance.
This model encourages coaches and youth athletes to stay away from early specialization.
This model encourages athletes to develop a strong foundation of normal human movement (running, jumping, kicking, etc.) and a base of general physical preparation (relative strength, speed, agility, quickness, coordination, body awareness, etc.) along with participation in numerous sports (soccer, cross-country, running, skating, swimming, and cycling).
Multi-lateral training does not involve the concept of specificity of training.
Another goal of multi-lateral training is building physical literacy in all athletes during their childhood by promoting quality daily physical activity that involves non-specialized means.
Training is not specific to one characteristic or sport; training involves building a solid base and avoiding overuse injuries (from early specialization) along with decreasing monotony and staleness in training. As said previously, multi-lateral training allows for individuals to build a solid foundation of development in which they can draw from later in their athletic careers.
Kevin Cronin, MS, CSCS,*D, USAW has worked with Collegiate, Olympic, and Professional level athletes over the last three years, working with All-Americans, All-Conference selections, NCAA National Champions, National Champions, and World Champions. Kevin has worked at Stanford University and the University of Texas as a volunteer Strength and Conditioning Coach. He currently serves as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Colorado College. Copyright (c) 1999-2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association. Use with permission. All rights reserved.
Bompa, T. Periodization. Theory and Methodology of Training. (4th ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 29-33, 1999. Canadian Sport for Lift. Long-Term Athlete Development Resource paper V2. Canadian Sport Centres, Canada.