LTAD Stages - Sitting

Pre-amble Pre-amble

Athletes with a disability (AWADs) are first and foremost athletes, and for this reason, virtually everything in the able-bodied Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model is applicable.
-No Accidental Champions - 2006

This statement certainly holds true for sitting volleyball.  There are differences and extra considerations, however, when working with volleyball athletes with a disability, which must always be kept in mind.

Nature of disability

Sitting volleyball AWADs can have a wide variety of conditions. While amputation/limb shortening is the most common, the disability could be: muscular deficiency or weakness; significant reduction in range of motion; cerebral palsy; among others.  The athletes’ disabilities must always be carefully considered when designing training plans and sessions, and can have an effect on the individual’s place within the LTAD model.

Congenital or Acquired

Physical disabilities generally fall into two categories: congenital (from birth) or acquired.  Those individuals with congenital disabilities have had to adapt various elements of their daily lives since birth, whereas a person with an acquired disability – depending on the age at onset of injury or illness – will undergo a time of significant change and transition in their lives.

AWADs with either a congenital or an acquired disability can play a significant role in any AWAD development structure.  The present rosters of the Canadian men’s and women’s sitting volleyball teams are made up of athletes having either congenital or acquired disabilities.  Some have played volleyball for their entire lives, whereas others only began playing after their injury or illness.

Sport experience and age at onset of disability

The onset or a physical disability can occur at any age for an individual.  This can have a significant effect on how each individual fits into any LTAD model and makes chronological age a poor tool to use in evaluating an individual’s place within the LTAD framework.

Furthermore, one must consider general sport experience and volleyball-specific experience in evaluating where an individual with an acquired disability fits into the LTAD framework.  How developed were their skills?  How are they able to translate what they already know onto the sitting volleyball court?

Finally, it must be mentioned that though sitting volleyball has been designed for athletes with a disability, it is an ideal sport for those athletes to integrate with able-bodied (AB) athletes.  In fact, in order for the sport to see growth and to provide opportunities for AWADs, this integration is one of the critical factors to success.