Training to compete and Training to win stages
These stages now shift the focus more from training for development to training for a competitive environment and ideally winning competitions. They cover the age ranges of 16+ years old for males and 15+ years old for females.
The main objectives for these stages in the LTAD model are to optimise the engine that has been built in the previous stages, learn to compete, and produce performance on demand (Canada Sport Institute, 2014). Within the training to compete phase it is suggested that more specialised and position-specific training takes place to adequately prepare the player for the demands of competing (Balyi and Hamilton, 2004). There is also more individualisation within the physical training and the process of periodisation (logically structuring a progressive training plan) becomes a lot more important (Balyi and Hamilton, 2004).
The rugby player will need to develop a wide range of physical capacities to excel on the field and so it is crucial that they have a well-structured physical training programme to physically adapt. Adequate recovery plans become more important in this phase due to the increased physicality and competitive nature of the competitive games.
The Training to win phase is the final stage of athletic development (Balyi and Hamilton, 2004). It is proposed that the physical, technical, and tactical skills have been appropriately developed and mastered and now the players are training with the aim of maximising performance in order to win (Sport Institute Canada, 2014). Due to the results-driven nature of sport, some see the need to prioritise winning earlier in the development of players. Players from winning and high performing teams may get selected for elite development pathways or professional academies at young ages. Having the Training to win phase later in the development of the player does not mean that winning cannot be important early in the development stages. This theoretical LTAD model gives an ideal situation where the player’s skillset and physical engine are fully developed and then winning becomes the priority.