The coaching structure we adopt at Target is based on the work of Istvan Balyi's 'long-term athlete development programme'. The model highlights the need to support participants at every level to encourage them to fulfil their potential and ultimately, remain in sport.

It provides a detailed structure for developing individuals, and outlines the key coaching principles and practices relating to the various developmental stages individuals progress through. The stages represent various chronological age ranges (male & female) and are flexible, as progression occurs when a child is developmentally ready and not because they have reached a certain age. Training, preperation & competition must always account for individual differences!

Our coaches understand that their job is to help children develop as individuals and not just as a future sport stars!!

Key Child Development Areas


  1. Skill Execution
  2. Techniques
  3. Consistency & Control
  4. Individual & Group Practice


  1. Learning & Exploration
  2. Imagination
  3. Confidence & Enthusiasm
  4. Mental & Lifestyle Skills
  5. Avoids Anxiety & Boredom
  6. Goal Setting
  7. Group Activities
  8. Responsibility
  9. Communication
  10. Stable Temperament


  1. Motor Control
  2. Movement Skills
  3. (agility, balance, coordination, speed etc)
  4. Strength & Power
  5. Multi-Skills
  6. Multi-Activities
  7. Growth & Body Changes
  8. Nutrition


  1. Fun & Enjoyment
  2. Inclusion & Participation
  3. Safe Environment
  4. Parent & School Support
  5. Form Relationships
  6. Fair Play, Rules & Ethics
  7. Socially Responsible

Key Child Development Stages

When fundamental movement skills are emphasised and developed in a systematic manner, children at the earliest stages should be:-

  • more willing to try a range of sports
  • more able to make a successful transition to another sport
  • more likely to find at least one sport that captures their interest
  • more motivated to make sport a continuing part of their lives.

"I tried various sports as a child and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I didn't realise it at the time but this gave me strong basic skills, which helped me develop as a hockey international when I started to specialise in the sport age 15"

(Jane Sixsmith, England Women's Hockey Captain).

Fundamentals (stage 1)

Age 3 - 6 years

  • Sample a wide range of movement activities in fun, playful and creative environments.
  • No sport-specific specialisation. A multi-skills approach should be adopted.
  • Emphasis on development of basic movement skills, not formal competition.
  • Parent support & involvement, encouraging participation in as many differnt activities as possible.
  • Speed, power and endurance developed using fun games and challenges.
  • No periodisation and....lots of FUN!

Fundamentals (stage 2)

Age 6 - 8 years

  • Progress & continue points in stage 1 to a more advanced level.

Learning to Train

Age 8 - 12 years

  • Introduction of basic skills & fitness to their preferred activity.
  • Reduction in number of sports/activities but recommend at least three.
  • Focus on mastery of basic sport skills through regular practice in fun-based environments, using discovery learning.
  • Emphasis on learning to train and practice, not on performance outcome.
  • Element of appropriate competition introduced (25%)