A Tragedy We’re Just Going to Accept?


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"I’m not a crazy mom," said Jennifer Sherman of Ridgewood, who explained that she enrolled her 3-year-old son, Jack, because he is desperate to have his own version of baseball after watching so many of his 9-year-old brother’s games. "He wants to do this."


For the record, my 4 year old daughter would ‘want’ to have ice cream every night for dinner… Sometimes, parents and coaches need to be the intermediary between what a child wants and what’s best…


Please, leave your comments below:


– Brian

17 Responses

  1. Mike Mejia says:

    Unfortunately, Brian, this scenario is all too believable. Although I must admit I was somewhat surprised to find out that this was trickling down to the toddler set.

    Considering what we do, you’d think this call for more training for young athletes would be a good thing. Unfortunately, many parents and coaches have preconceived notions about exactly what youth training should entail, and when the methods we use deviate from that they’re confused. Of course, it is a great opportunity to help educate them about the IYCA approach, but some are simply unwilling to listen.

    I find that often the parents and athletes who are seeking out that extra edge don’t want to hear about things like “long term athletic development”, or shoring up weak links/ imbalances in an effort to produce more resilient bodies. Most of the people who approach me are interested in performance enhancement first, and usually only make a brief mention of injury prevention.

    That’s why, like you, I have such a problem with a lot of these “sports performance” facilities. It’s all about the Bigger, Stronger, Faster approach. When I work individually with some of the kids who’ve come through some of these places, I’m often shocked by their lack of flexibility and inability to carry out even some of the more rudimentary unilateral exercises. The funny thing is, I’ll demo an exercise and hear “Oh yeah, I do these”, only to see something that looks nothing like the drill I’ve just shown.

    I guess we just have to keep at it and fighting this disturbing trend at the grass roots level. It might help though if the IYCA approach could get a little more press. Maybe we can all join forces and try and get some more national exposure for the cause to keep this thing from really spinning out of control.

    Anyway, Brian, thanks for posting this.


  2. Rob Kulessa says:

    Brian, I don’t understand what you are getting at here? In a sense you are arguing against our own industry. If the point you are trying to make is the support of a easily recognizable standard of evaluation for youth trainers then I am behind you 100%.
    We have to watch going down that road because if the method of certification and credentialing implemented does not mesh with what we as IYCA certified trainers agree with then we run the risk of looking crass and commercial.
    What I believe is there will always be inferior or sub-par trainers out there. The best thing we can do as ambassadors for IYCA is to continue our education both in our personal growth as well as in educating the public to the value of having their kids train where they see “IYCA-YFS” after a trainers name.

  3. Dan Kurth says:

    I just retired from coaching high school wrestling for 15 years. One of the main reasons I retired from the high school level is to return to the youth level to save the sport in our local area. We have a local club that has 5, 6 and 7 year olds going to local, state and national tournaments. They start with 10-14 Kindergarteners and in the past 5 years have put an average of 3 kids per year into our 7th grade program. In the coming year, we have zero kids coming into 7th grade. They just can’t figure out why these kids are dropping out in 4th, 5th and 6th grade. If you don’t develop a heightened sense of play and a love of activity in kids first and foremost, all of the technical and sport specific training in the world will be useless, because they will never be complete athletes. Thank God for the IYCA. Brian gets it, and is a light coming out of a very dark 2 decades of youth destruction.

  4. george maoury says:

    Brian, are we going to have to accept it, or are we going to change it???? My first thought when reading this article was….. Now is the prime time for the IYCA to step up to bat. I know you told me that when you read this article it made you sick to your stomach, I can agree. Not only did it make me sick it also made me frustrated. Let’s destroy this ugly monster that has corrupted youth sports in the last 10-15 years. G-

  5. Deon Wilson says:

    Well it is an interesting article, but it is what we are all naturally governed by. Human nature is to strive to be better, basic parent instinct is to push their children to be better and have opportunities they didn’t. This is what your sales and business are based on as well Brian. Trainers buy your products because they want to build a viable business. Kids attend because they and their parents want them to be the best. Basic economic nature creates the supply and demand model because of the pedestal the media puts professional and even elite level young athletes on. Everyone just wants an opportunity at the athletic spot light and the perceived easy life. I agree this fueled fire is very wrong and the main objective should be healthy functioning human beings, but this is not the nature of American (North American) society. All systems and what they teach to strive for are wrong. Until our industry gets a holistic approach nothing will change. We are all part of the problem, because it is part of our nature.

  6. Dan Kurth says:

    I can tell you from personal experience that these people get incredibly vicious when you buck their system. The one thing all of these rabid parents have in common is that they don’t realize that they are wrecking their kid’s athletic futures until their kid’s athletic futures are wrecked.

  7. Phil Hueston says:

    Here’s a thought on how to change this. We’ve all heard the phrase “sell them what they want and give them what they need.” OK, if you’ve spent more than 10 minutes with Pat Rigsby you’ve heard that!
    Ask these parents, coaches, etc “what can I do to help?” Explain to them in “sports-specific” terms how what YOU do will improve what THEIR MINI-SUPERSTARS will do. Then incorporate the concepts of good coaching and youth fitness into your programs: improve movement patterns, create fun and joy and instill a sense of wonder and a willingness to try things into the kids you work with. Then, celebrate the heck out of their accomplishments, on and off the field, ice, arena, mat, etc. The kids will love it, become “addicted” (in the right way) to good fitness habits AND they’ll “want to do this.”
    All the while, keep reinforcing to the parents and coaches how much this will improve the players ability to play (INSERT SPORT HERE).
    Then…repeat…repeat…repeat…repeat…repeat. Get it?
    Create community among the kids you work with and a culture that they want to be part of…
    Our facility is full of athletes and kids who can’t wait to be here. While they’re with us, we get to hear about why they hate going to practice, “weight room” and the other mind-numbing, life-crushing crap their coaches make them do. It’s a blueprint for us in a way, and guides us in our efforts to educate and assist coaches, help parents make good choices for their kids and the kids to make choices for themselves.
    WE have to build better athletes, better students and better people.

  8. ken kerwood says:

    What an article. It really is funny because I’m kinda on both sides of the fence. First let me say that I have 3 boys 16, 13, and 11. They are all very active in different sports. I have coached baseball and basketball and helped with soccer. And yes I have paid for trainers. Currently I am paying for the oldest one to help him improve at football. Football was a sport that I never let them play until they were in high school, I thought it was to demanding, the coaching wasn’t good enough to offset the chance of injury and I thought it was the easiest of all the sports to learn at a latter age. So I have found a program that both him and I are comfortable with, enjoy the person teaching and also have the same ideas on teaching.

    Here is what I consider the saddest thing with the article. If parents would spend as much money on getting their kids academics as they do sports they would be doing a lot more for their kids future.

    My kids have always played soccer, basketball, baseball and swimming. They do each sport when in season. I think with this group of sports they are learning a number of different things and using different parts of their body. For instance when playing soccer it gives their arms time to rest from baseball. Then with swimming it helps buid the arm strength.

    I talked to a high school baseball coach and he said freshman year he will have 60 kids try out. Out of the 20 that he keeps he will have about 5 of them that will still be playing when they are seniors.

    My middle son plays on a high level baseball team that does the practice all the time. Here is the problem I see with the program and a difference in coaching tactics that I use. First they do the hitting and fielding and pitching, constantly. The kids can field. The problem is they can’t move. I teach my kids how to move first and then field second. Teaching them to catch a ground ball is easy, teaching them how to get to a ground ball is harder.

    I have taken them to ex major league pitching and batting coaches, and was very disappointed and only went a couple times. I have taken them to a back yard coach and was very happy. The first thing I look at is how they react with each other. It’s sorta like a marriage if the relationship and communication isn’t there, then the best coaching in the world won’t help.

    The problem is most parents don’t understand, but the ones that do are exceptional. I remember on baseball practice I had, I formed the kids into two teams and had them play tag and other fun games for an hour. I lost a couple of players because I wasn’t competitive enough and wasn’t teaching baseball. No but I was teaching them how to move. The funny thing is most of my kids made their high school teams.

    Here is the only advice I give parents. Are your kids having fun, do they enjoy it, if you answer yes to both of those then you are on the right track.

  9. Steven says:

    Those of us who are parents as well as coaches can certainly understand the desire to give our children every opportunity to reach their highest potential.
    What is unfortunate is that too many parents just don’t know that these “professional level” training camps are not going to lead to the best long-term development, and they are definitely not helping life-long health benefits through continued participation.

  10. Jim says:

    Well, there’s one huge factor that needs to be considered…maturity. If a child, boy, teenager, isn’t mature enough to understand why they’re “really” attending specialized sport specific camps/training than it’s a complete waste of money.

    I coach year round youth sports, baseball, football, and basketball. Often the best athletes do not perform the best because they’re not aggressive or competive. To send these kids to sports camps is silly. However, camps which emphasize fitness in a way that’s fun would be a great choice.

    In time, these good young athletes will mature into competive/aggressive athletes and those fun oriented fitness camps will pay dividends…..while the sport specific youth camps would not.

    The bottom line is that we need many opportunities for young athletes which take into consideration the maturation of young athletes.

  11. david pocock says:

    I disagree with your lead-in, Brian. I find this article “absolutely believable”.

    The reason I find this article absolutely believable is that it depicts two principles of human nature that result in very predictable outcomes;

    Principle 1. When parents (or their children) feel a sense of inadequacy about who they are, and that their inherent skills and talents fall well short of society’s expectations, they can become driven by this “sense of lack” to push themselves and their children to achieve inappropriate or unrealistic results. This is the parent who misses the opportunity to help their child develop their inherent skills or enjoy sports and play, and forces them to “learn” how to be an elite star athlete.

    Principle 2. Any activity or pursuit that is done primarily to achieve fame, status, or personal gain is going to create conflict on a personal and group level. When the primary driver is greed or envy, nothing good comes out of it. How many times do we see the lesson that money, fame and status don’t equate to happiness and fulfillment. This does not mean that the pursuit of a career in professional sports or the fitness industry is bad, or that the pursuit of making money in the fitness industry is greedy and misguided. (Even wanting to become a doctor or a lawyer is not always a “noble” pursuit if driven by a desire for fame/status/money).

    Although the “tragedy we may have to accept” is that a personal sense of lack, and motivations of envy and greed may always be part of the human makeup, we can lead the effort in setting the positive example for the fitness industry.

    Whether it’s playing games, participating in sports, or working hard to realize our potential; whether it’s volunteering, coaching or training, or building a successful business in the fitness industry – two motivations should be the foundation of creating positive, fulfilling, experiences;

    Pure Enjoyment, and Service to Others

    To me, the IYCA does a great job in keeping its members motivated to create pure enjoyment and serve our young athletes and each other. Thanks in large part to your leadership, Brian, I think the IYCA provides the tools, the knowledge and the motivation to lead the industry by example in how we can create positive, enriching experiences for our members and our Youth.

    That’s a possibility we can embrace!

  12. Tim Rudd says:

    Whether this is human nature or not the facts are injury rates are up as well as obesity rates. Programs and sports leagues pretty much are excluding the young athlete who aren’t skilled enough to help their team win. Also as far as injuries are concerned I have 15 year old kids who have come to me post ACL injury, spinal fractures, sports hernias and hamstring tears. All of these kids were going to speed schools, playing their sport year round and had speciality coaches. When do they play? When are they taught fundamental skills of development, when do they recover? And when do they get stronger? This is the problem associated with this mentality. Just because someone says they teach them how to move, well do they know the skills of movement and how to teach each aspect so the young athlete has a complete understanding. Every injured kid I work with has never been taught, just trained to win until injured. This is a reality that can’t be denied or argued, it’s happeining and I see it first hand with the athletes that walk into my facility, and they are all byproducts of this ridiculous mindset set of overspecilization and lack of fundamental skill development through guided discovery, outcome based coaching leading into skill based coaching. When kids are allowed to have fun and are actually taught through a systematic and skill based approach for each stage of development, they will succeed not just in athletics, but in life as well. As Brian has said Human Growth and Development has seen to that.

  13. george maoury says:

    Not sure if you got my first response. I feel that now is the prime time for the IYCA to shine. This is a huge problem and I choose to change it, not accept it. G-

  14. Daniel says:


    I think it just goes to show that as IYCA steps up to compete in a business that is all performance and competitive based, the importance of going to the root of the issue and that is creatively persuading parents of the importance associated with their child’s mental, emotional and physical health with training .(case and point…Jamie Olivers ‘Food Revolution’) Unfortunately majority of kids today(not all) are becoming lesser products of what their parents know as health, and its basic junk nutrition and fads along with exercising to only look ideal or reach a lofty goal of success. It’s going to be difficult but well worth it to take the time to properly build healthier individuals from the ground up. Its really going against our whole western culture which is trying to catch up to some preconceived social perceptions of the norm that are created by advertising giants and business’ (big and small) that predominantly give people whatever they want regardless of if it is detrimental to their well-being .

    Informative article, yet the news is not so great for us coaches who are out to build lives and make a career out it versus making money on all opportunities regardless of the effects on people


    p.s. Brian, I haven’t looked into your nutrition program yet,(so you may already have things like this put together) but if you ever partnered(not in business, but through your missions) with Sean Croxton at Underground Wellness I think you guys would be a even greater driving force in youth health and helping to build a better tomorrow for the next generations. Whether or not you guys do is up to you, but I know that I am doing my best to merge your two philosophies together for a greater impact on youth and the family. Keep up the great work.

  15. James Mosley, Jr. says:

    I have had the privilege, of coaching my son in CYO basketball and track. I also coach/train adults. I am not expecting my son, to become a professional athlete. I think there are benefits to specialized training for youths. However, their maturuty has to be considered. I see no need for young kids to specialize in a particular sport.

    Athletics should be fun. We enjoyed creating our own games, when we were kids. Fun has to be programmed into instruction. Correct instruction is more important, than increasing the volume of training. I can definitely see increased overuse injuries, as a result of year-round training. Injuries are no fun!

  16. Nathan Atkins says:

    First I’d like to clear the air…when I was a teenager I said the first thing I am going to do when I become an adult is eat ice cream for dinner every night so, I understand your daughter!

    On a serious note I don’t think think the mother is crazy but I do believe that parents need to manage healthy guidelines for their children and she is just letting the pressure of pleasing her children interfere with good parental decision making.

    However, no trainer in their right mind should ever agree to train a child this young or play with a child this young. Regardless of how much money or how bad you need it we have to protect the integrity of our industry and the value of being considered certified professionals.

  17. Stephen says:

    I have mixed feelings about this topic, even though I am a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist and train many young athletes (as young as 5-6 years old).
    The sadness lies with the lack of effective physical education programs in our schools and our “leaders” to fail to recognize it.
    Those that want to improve and hope for highly successful careers at whatever level are definitely going to benefit from sound training principles.
    It’s a choice. There are those who do and those who don’t…Those who will and those who won’t…
    But I do absolutely know this; “You cannot build a better world without improving individuals.”
    Marie Curie

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