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An elite opportunity

Queen’s University professor Jean Côté is joining an elite group of international researchers and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week to discuss training and development in youth sport.

The handpicked group of 16 researchers, along with members of the IOC, will evaluate the current science and practices related to developing young athletes. From that discussion, the group will draft recommendations and guidelines to ensure young athletes progress in a healthy manner.

Jean Côté is off to Switerland to work with the IOC.

Dr. Côté will present to the group his research on effective coaching.

“I will argue that we need to relax the structure of youth sports in general – youth organized sport is over-coached and over-structured.  The achievement of long-term participation, elite performance, and personal development through sport are objectives that are compatible and do not require specialized programs and complex structures” he says.

One of the biggest challenges at the conference, Dr. Côté anticipates, will be reaching a consensus decision with such a wide range of expertise in the same room. The participants are presenting on a variety of topics including athlete development frameworks, talent identification, scheduling and overload, injury prevention and eating disorders. By April 2015, the group must have a consensus paper on youth athlete development ready for publication in the IOC-supported injury prevention and health protection edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“There are going to be a lot of conflicting ideas presented at the conference, but we have to focus on our goal of youth development and work past that,” says Dr. Côté. “It’s exciting to be associated with this level of research and it also shows the IOC cares about the development of youth. We are looking at the whole child and that is a very healthy approach.”

The conference takes place from Nov. 5-7 at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.