Sensitive Periods to Train General Motor Abilities in Children and Adolescents: Do They Exist? A Critical Appraisal

B. Van Hooren*, M.D. Croix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Web of Science)


Some long-term athlete development models have proposed generic sensitive periods or "windows of opportunity" during childhood and adolescence that are optimal for training general motor abilities such as strength or speed. However, it remains unclear whether these periods exist. This review will therefore critically appraise the rationale behind generic sensitive periods. We discuss several issues with generic sensitive periods and argue that general motor abilities and the associated sensitive periods do not exist. The identified issues with generic sensitive periods question their validity and we therefore suggest that they should not be used to train youth athletes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalStrength and Conditioning Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • trainability
  • long-term athletic development
  • training emphasize periods
  • youth training
  • resistance training
  • latent variables

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