Athletic Development for Youth Athletes | Spire Perform

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Athletic Development for Youth Athletes

Perform Press Office
7 May 2013
“Any athlete in any sport can improve performance through smart and effective training, regardless of age, experience, or genetic potential.”

Michael Johnson Performance Philosophy

Fundamental to the Michael Johnson Performance training approach, we believe that long-term athletic development is both an active and lifelong process. Each athlete is going to get older and change physically regardless of training; however, it is absolutely essential to engage in developmental-specific performance training in order to maximise athleticism. If you develop and optimise the fundamentals of athleticism, the end result is improved sports potential. The best players in sport are almost always the fastest, most powerful, and agile athletes.

The long-term athletic development approach by Michael Johnson Performance focuses on six limiting and modifiable elements of athleticism. These are: stamina, strength, speed, suppleness, skill, and strategy.

The “Standard”

Stamina Strength Speed
Aerobic Maximal Strength Acceleration
Anaerobic - Lactic Strength Endurance Maximum Velocity
Anaerobic - Alactic Speed Strength Deceleration/COD


The “New”

Suppleness Skill Strategy
Mobility Rhythm & Reaction Mental
Stability Spatial Orientation & Balance Nutritional
Flexibility Movement Adequacy Sensory


These six components of athleticism are present within every training program in each phase of the developmental process. In order to optimise performance, these elements are individually tailored and varied specifically to address the critical age of physical adaptation to training. Age is based on “developmental age” in years as estimated by growth and maturation measures. The Michael Johnson Performance Youth Training Phase based upon the “Windows of Accelerated Adaptation” is the Learn-to-Train, High School Prep, and College/University Prep.

Learn-to-Train (ages 9 – 11)
Within this distinct developmental stage, these athletes focus more on top-end speed, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, joint mobility, gross motor pattern development, rhythm & reaction, and balance.

High School/Senior School Prep (ages 12 – 14)
This level of athlete has an equal emphasis in the speed category on both acceleration and top-end speed. They are at the maturation level where they are beginning to develop the physical requirements to produce higher-levels of power necessary to accelerate. They also focus on speed-strength, anaerobic capacity, flexibility, and spatial orientation.

College/University Prep (ages 15 – 18)
At this point in the maturation process, growth plates are beginning to close and endocrine adaptations allow for an additional emphasis on maximal strength and subsequent power development. The speed component at this level focuses primarily on acceleration. Maximal strength, higher anaerobic capacity, and joint stability are additional areas of athleticism developed specific to the CP athlete.

This long-term athletic development and multi-disciplinary approach to sports performance is essential for addressing the specific needs of the athlete and enhancing the modifiable components of their athleticism.  Get trained and evaluated at St. George’s Park – our world-class team of specialists will prepare you for success in your sport.