OVERVIEW OF ACADEMY PROGRAM
Niagara Academy Mission
Niagara Academy’s mission is to provide high performance sports training and a personalized academic program in order to create independent thinkers within a nurturing family environment.
Coaches and teachers strive to meet the goals of university-bound athletes while challenging them to attain personal excellence. We seek to admit qualified student-athletes whose athletic and academic abilities will contribute to and benefit from rigorous educational and high performance training. The utmost of care will be taken to ensure that a holistic approach is taken when designing and implementing training and competitive plans for all stages of development.
The Academy high performance tennis training program is based on the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model of Tennis Canada. Many elements need to be in place to achieve ongoing success on the national and international tennis stages. This model has been developed to ensure a clear understanding of the stages of development and provide information on the key components of the tennis sport system.
Niagara Academy has adopted the LTAD’s systematic approach as it provides a framework for developing physical literacy, physical fitness and competitive ability, using a stage-by-stage approach. The model outlines an optimal development plan based on: growth, development, and maturation, as well as providing a path for those who wish to excel in the sport. Players receive optimal training, competition and recovery in each stage of development. This approach includes attention to the holistic development of the player identifying important technical, physical, tactical, mental and emotional components. These elements are applied throughout the players’ development, acknowledging the important stages which are building blocks for thorough athlete preparation.
Many publications suggest that it takes approximately 10 years or 10,000 hours of serious training (after the development of physical literacy) for an athlete to achieve an international elite level of competitiveness within his/her sport. There are no shortcuts. Player development is a long-term process.
Well-planned programming is developed and followed over an extended time frame in order to develop tennis champions. All areas of development are planned, tracked and monitored. Short term performance goals will never be allowed to undermine long term athlete development. Tennis training at Niagara Academy takes place 2 times per day in 1.5 hour blocks, Monday to Friday. This training schedule is comparable to competing in a tournament and prepares players for the competitive experience. The coach-player training ratio is 1:4 and often 1:3/2. On average, for 20% of the on-court training time, athletes have an opportunity to work one-on-one with a coach.
Importance of Understanding Long-term Preparation
It is imperative to the success of the program and athlete, that Coach and Parent are educated about the proper periodization recognizing that shortcuts will be harmful to the athlete’s long-term preparation. It requires sustained commitment, willpower and motivation over a long period, in order to reach the top. Coaches, parents and administrators understand that physical, mental, motor and emotional traits all develop at different rates. All aspects of the program must consider the whole athlete, and not focus only on the technical and physical aspects of the sport. Cognitive, mental and emotional (affective) elements are critical for athlete performance and will be prioritized in long-term athlete development. Beyond these elements, ethical behaviour, fair play, respect and perseverance are qualities that should be fostered within all stages of long-term development. Every player will be exposed to a positive tennis environment and experience at each stage of development in order to ensure long-term involvement in tennis.