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Active Start Stage of LTAD in BJJ: Engaging Activities for Fundamental Growth

Young BJJ students playing fun games in accordance with the Active Start stage of LTAD

The Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model is a framework designed to support the holistic development of athletes. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), with its rich blend of physical and mental disciplines, aligns perfectly with the Active Start stage of LTAD. This blog post explores how BJJ incorporates fun, developmentally appropriate activities that foster fundamental motor skills and physical literacy in young athletes.

Essence of the Active Start Stage

The Active Start stage of LTAD focuses on children aged 0-6 years, emphasizing the development of basic movement skills. BJJ activities tailored for this stage not only promote physical fitness but also lay the groundwork for a lifelong love for sports.

BJJ and Physical Literacy

BJJ is a powerful tool for developing physical literacy in the Active Start stage. Through games and fundamental practices, young athletes learn essential motor skills like balance, coordination, and agility, which are crucial for their overall growth and sets children up for their long term athletic development.

BJJ Games for Active Start

Engaging games like Sumo and Knee Tag in BJJ classes make learning fun and interactive. These activities enhance children's physical abilities while teaching them the foundational concepts of BJJ in a playful environment. Some other engaging games include:

  • Open guard passing from feet to hips

  • Back to back, where each students starts sitting with there backs to each other, then fights for a pinning position

  • Sock tails - children put a sock in the back of their belt, and they all have to steal each others belts. Last remaining child wins. Can be played on the feet, hopping on one leg, in a crab walk position, etc....

Fundamental BJJ Skills

Fundamental BJJ skills such as shrimping and standing up in base are taught in a way that is accessible and enjoyable for young learners. These movements build core strength, improve mobility, and form the foundation for more advanced BJJ techniques.

Creating a Safe and Enjoyable Environment

Safety is paramount in the Active Start stage. Coaches must create a nurturing environment where young athletes can learn and have fun without fear of injury. This includes using appropriate mats, ensuring supervision, and making the activities suitable for the age group.

Parents' Role in Active Start Stage

Parents play a vital role in supporting their children through the Active Start stage of LTAD in BJJ. They can encourage their kids, help them practice at home, and ensure they have a balanced approach to training and rest. Parents can help maintain a positive attitude towards training, and help establish regular routines for a students training schedule.

Coaches' Perspective on Active Start

Effective coaching in the Active Start stage involves understanding the developmental needs of young athletes and adapting teaching methods accordingly. Coaches should focus on making learning enjoyable and rewarding for the children.

Measuring Progress in the Active Start Stage

Setting realistic goals and monitoring progress are key aspects of the Active Start stage. Coaches and parents should celebrate small milestones and use them to motivate young athletes.

Challenges and Solutions in Active Start BJJ

Young athletes may face challenges such as short attention spans or fear of new experiences. Coaches can overcome these by using age-appropriate techniques, offering consistent encouragement, and fostering a positive learning environment. Consistent structure is crucial to establishing expectations wiht the children. The first 5-10 minutes of class are particuluary important transition times where students become attuned to the classroom environment.

Community and BJJ for Young Athletes

A supportive community plays a crucial role in the development of young BJJ athletes. Organizing events and competitions tailored for the Active Start stage encourages participation and builds a sense of camaraderie among young learners.

Feedback and Adaptation in Training

Continuous feedback and adaptation of training methods are essential for effective learning in BJJ. Coaches should listen to feedback from children and parents and adjust their training methods to meet the needs of young athletes.

Future of BJJ in LTAD

The future of BJJ in LTAD looks promising, with an increasing focus on early development stages and holistic training approaches. BJJ is set to play a significant role in shaping the physical and mental well-being of young athletes. Programming for BJJ youth programs with LTAD stages in mind will help develop long run athletic capacity, and create students for life.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aligns perfectly with the Active Start stage of LTAD, offering a platform for young athletes to develop fundamental skills in a fun, engaging environment. It sets the stage for lifelong fitness, discipline, and a love for sports.

Interested in learning more about LTAD? Check out the definitive book Long Term Athletic Development by Istvan Balyi, Richard Way, and Colin Higgs.


  1. How does BJJ support physical development in the Active Start stage?

  2. What are some age-appropriate BJJ activities for young children?

  3. How can parents support their children in BJJ during the Active Start stage?

  4. What should coaches focus on when teaching BJJ to young athletes?

  5. How does participating in BJJ at a young age benefit long-term athletic development?

  6. What strategies can be used to make BJJ training fun and engaging for young learners?

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