Female: 8 to 11 years
Male: 9 – 12 years
During this stage young swimmers should learn how to train and develop the skills of a specific sport. There may be participation in complementary sports; those sports which use similar energy systems and movement patterns. They should also learn the basic technical/tactical skills, and ancillary capacities, including;
- Warm up and cool down;
- Hydration and nutrition;
- Relaxation and focusing.
This stage coincides with peak motor co-ordination, therefore there should be an emphasis on skill development. Training should also include the use of ‘own body weight’ exercises; medicine ball and Swiss ball exercises as well as developing suppleness.
Although the focus is on training, competition should be used to test and refine skills. The recommended training to competition ratio is 75% to 25%. There should be single periodisation.
If a young swimmer misses this stage of development then he/she will never reach their full potential. One of the main reasons athletes plateau during the later stages of their careers is because of an over emphasis on competition instead of optimising training during this very important stage.