An Example of What’s Wrong in Youth Sports?

Excerpt from Article: "Creatine, which the American College of Sports Medicine says shouldn’t be used by those younger than 18, has been shown to be ineffective for some people. It can cause stomach upset and muscle cramps and overwork the kidneys. There are no data evaluating the long-term consequences of use or its effect on the heart and brain."


"Coach H" Response: I have been reading this tired boogey monster story about creatine since the mid 80’s and coaching high school juniors and older using creatine the entire time. I have rarely witnessed anything negative happening. The one or two muscle cramp experiences were always related to very poor hydration habits. A few athletes did not get any benefit from creatine supplementation. But absolutely no one has had a significant negative effect.

My Response to "Coach H": Although I don’t disagree with the general statements made here, my question is this —> How do you know? Cause and effect relationship in medical situations is hardly an easy journey when one tries to locate pathology. In that you have signed your credentials to the bottom of this post and are fully experienced and qualified, then you are most certainly aware that soft tissue trauma and other forms of dysfunction that occur and go unchecked can impact compensatory action and cause injury, often years later. Again, I also think the ‘boogey man’ statements regarding creatine are inflated, but do not have hubris enough to assume that I know everything related to potential concerns – even years later.


Excerpt from Article: Grasso’s comment

"He worries, however, that creatine can be a gateway drug. "Once you start dabbling in ergonomic (performance enhancing) aids, my concern is they become addictive…”


"Coach H" Response: is asinine and comes from a whore for public exposure. Creatine is a food supplement, one that our own bodies synthesizes from protein consumption, not a god damn drug or hormone. Chocolate is more addictive!


My Response to "Coach H": My concerns and statement regarding addiction have nothing to do with biological considerations at all. They are mental and emotional. Once again, I point to your rather lofty experience and success in this youth fitness industry – Surely you must know the evidence, empirical or otherwise, of performance enhancing drugs causing addictions within there users. The largeness and fullness or the muscles, enhanced speed and power, the ‘perception of an athletic edge’… These are the biomotor and psychological factors which many young men become addicted to for youth sports and could lead to the search for more intensified versions of supplementation to further increase what they see and feel. Emotional and psychological behavior of those taking enhancement supplements is a very misunderstood and ignored factor within this genre.


"Coach H" Comment: I personally have supplemented with creatine for 25+ years and have no health issues. There are more people who suffer negative effects from eating citrus than those who experience problems with creatine. More athletes have had upset stomachs from Gatorade than creatine.


My Response: I don’t disagree, but my father smoked 2 packs a day for 40 years. My oldest brother still smokes 2 packs a day (now going on nearly 30 years). Neither of them have ever become ill, developed lung cancer or even a respiratory illness. Is the federal government then over-stating the deadly potential of cigarette smoke? By my family’s experience, it would seem so. You cannot suggest that claims being made by me, a reporter or the federal government are inflated and ‘boogey man’ based, when you use a personal story as complete and utter hyperbole to support your own claim. You simply disagree with my position… that’s fine, admirable and certainly one of the joys living in a free society.


"Coach H" Comment: When can I expect to read your article recommending the prohibition of citrus fruit?


My Response: I hope the reporter does write that story. Perhaps it will appear the same time as when you realize that your rather impressive credentials (as listed below) don’t amount to much in terms of offering a valuable opinion when it has to be shouted and laced with name calling. Debate is healthy. Debate is necessary. One of my favorite things to do is say "I was wrong" when someone shows me that I have misjudged what I thought to be true.

On the basis of your email alone, I am left wondering what kind of role model you are to young athletes pursuing youth sports?

That’s not intended to be a negative shot for no reason or the least bit rude, but when one of your young athletes receives news they disagree with or perhaps a call goes against them in a game setting, would you really want them responding by calling someone a ‘whore’ and reacting in such an inflammatory way?



"Coach H" Signature on Email:

Coach H
100+ D-1 scholarship athletes
13 Olympians
1 Gold, 2 Silvers, and 2 Bronze medals


25 Responses

  1. Todd says:

    Seems like a very pleasant and nice man, Brian. Great that he is working with Children.
    Oh brother.

  2. Jason says:

    Unfortunately, this gentleman has lost all credibility with his unprofessional and crass responses…even if his argument might be “worthy” of future discussion and debate…

  3. David says:

    This is a perfect example of a red faced coach running around with steam blowing out of his ears spouting off about something he evidently knows very liittle about. The fact is the creatine usage probably had little to do with his athletes success….unless they were powerlifters. Brian it’s great to see your calm response blowing holes in everything he says.

  4. Phil Hueston says:

    Those aren’t credentials after Coach H’s name, they’re a happy accident. Coaches like this are absolutely the problem. Great job with the creatine vs. smoking discussion. I personally don’t have a problem with a high school age athlete who wants to try creatine…as long as they stick to the therapeutic recommendations, use it within the scope of a proper nutrition plan and under the watchful eye of a qualified Sports Fitness Professional.
    Of course, that would seem to mean Coach H would be out of a job…oops, did I say that out loud?
    Phil Hueston, IYCA YFS
    NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist
    Whole bunch of D1 scholarships
    1st round NHL draft choice
    Slew of pro and semi-pro athletes
    Thousands of healthy, happy athletes, kids and parents!

  5. BJ Gaddour says:

    nothing pleases me more than to see an intelligent man enrage a meatstick with knowledge…

    thanks Brian… this made my day

    crank it!

  6. Damir Popadic says:

    There is now short cut in becoming star athlete.Generally speaking, I am not against ergonomic aids,but at the moment when all the other means for improving performance are exausted, and then with proper care.It would be foolish for less than very high performance athletes to use ergonomic aids when they have so many other ways to improve their performance.

  7. Phil Hueston says:

    Those aren’t credentials after his name, those are happy accidents! This guy is exactly whats wrong with youth sports. Product oriented coaches who attack those who disagree or question them. Great job with this guy, Brian. The disagreement isn’t the issue here…it’s the level of disrespect this guy has for someone honestly questioning the general issue. Can you imagine the kind of athletes and parents this guy turns out? Rock on, Brian!

  8. That is communication with a coach that ACTUALLY happened? That isn’t a made up scenario speculating on how to deal with ignorance?

    I guess some can make the claim that Creatine does no harm, but it truly only came in vogue in the early to mid 1990’s. I can see the value in it in small doses for muscle repair, 500 mg’s or less…but stressing the body with the 3000mg+/day loading phases is crazy.

    I don’t want to combat his stories with my own personal experience using it as a naive teenager, but it has significant effects on performance, but had a few side effects along the way. As a kid you have an ability to blame everything else on the symptoms when you are enjoying the performance effect of the supplement.

    Issues I had were: Muscle cramping(I kept plenty hydrated.), anxiety, mood swings, irritability, chronic diaphoresis, bloating, and flank pain. I am unsure if this is a long term side effect, but I rarely sweat anymore.

    My folks are the ones who noticed the moods swings, and I was convinced it was all in there heads. So I went off of it for a few months, and secretly went back on it. Within a day my mom was asking me if I was back on that “crap.”

    On top of that my muscles became to powerful for my joints, ligaments and tendons. This led to multiple injuries involving my knee, my wrist, my shoulder, and ankle. 5 surgeries later, I learned my lesson and train without supplementation and I’ve never been a better athlete.

    There is a reason professional scouts in football and hockey insist players come into testing with no creatine in their system. They want to see the players ACTUAL size, weight, and speed(A prime example I speculate on regarding creatine is Alonzo Mourning. I’d recognize that bloat anywhere, and we all know what happened with his kidneys.)

    That coach simply seems to be looking out for numero uno. Himself. I remember when the muscle head at the gym told me about this stuff that was “as close as you can get to steroids” without taking steroids. What a sell to a young kid.

    To me creatine to build size and speed is nothing more than cheating. I am sure he already has the “everyone else is doing it” excuse preloaded, but he is still a cheater in my book.

  9. Susan says:

    Well done. You exemplified the integrity of IYCA. This guy exemplifies the current situation we face as trainers vs. high school P.E. teachers who are ex-football bone heads. They don’t care about the development of kids….they only care about themselves….that’s why they crave recognition from their athletes!!!!

  10. Liz Donnelly says:

    Wow, Brian!
    1. Masterful argumentation on your part.
    2. 25+ years of consuming creatine might explain Coach H’s rather aggressive and rash demeanor. Consider Dr. Gibson’s side effects listed above.
    3. Overall, I’m quite sad. I feel sad for the young athletes Coach H coaches, especially if they dare disagree with him. He is blind to common sense arguments and obviously insecure when others disagree. To whom is he proving his worth? How many young athletes fell/felt controlled by him?
    (He reminds me of the hot-headed character in the old Laurel & Hardy film “The Piano Movers”. If you know that one, the moustached man blows up repeatedly when frustrated. Then he goes on to announce the litany of academic degrees after his name. Hilarious.)
    4. I’m going to get Laurel & Hardy films over Christmas break.


  11. Jack MacGregor says:

    Creatine may actually have a beneficial impact on the brain………………………………but that aside, I generally have to agree with your take as to the potential for psychological impact. Well-intentioned use of a supplement right from the get go, even when likely perfectly safe, may lead to some young athletes feeling like it is a large part of their success, and they may seek out additional “edges”. It would be far better to lay the entire foundation (something you are clearly well versed in based upon your extensive body of written work and presentations.

    Once you have a solid foundation in place (nutritionally, athletically, emotionally, etc.), then you can add in extras like creatine one at a time and attempt to decide whether they provide any real-world benefit in that athlete’s unique case or not.

    One thing is for absolute certain though, and that is name-calling and ad hominem arguing has no place in discussions like this one. Regardless of which side you fall on, the goal should always be respectful exchange of thoughts and ideas, which will either make you rethink your own beliefs or serve to further reinforce them.

    Whether I agree or disagree with you on any given topic, Mr. Grasso, I can never call into question your character, as you always present yourself with eloquence, class, dignity, and a passion for improving the lives of young athletes the world over. In addition, you always show respect for others, and that speaks volumes about you.

  12. Shawn says:

    You are to be commended on your calm and professional response. Great job.

  13. skye says:


    in the spirit of debate….in all respect, in my humble opinion…(disclaimer)

    I frankly don’t care about this guy. There seems to be such energy right now with so many fitness organizations and professionals spending energy discrediting each other. Anytime you put yourself out there to do good things which you are Brian, there will be detractors.

    This guy really isn’t one of the main problems I see with youth fitness. The problem is inactivity, addiction to technology and loss of playful spirit and healthy competition. Poor diets and energy drink companies peddling their wares to kids.
    The next thread will hopefully be a new tip, group drill or some quality info that we can implement into the work. We are all in this together so lets rally to fight the dangers of sedentary lifestyles and get kids climbing trees again and moving inside and out.
    Brian you are doing great and you do put yourself out there..don’t worry brother. turn it around and let our actions speak louder than silly words in the silly media.

    see you all at the summit in Feb! Lets rally and do good work!

  14. Raj Thompson says:

    As a former high school and college football athlete I’ve taken creatine and the only thing that happened to me was I got cramps and it made me bloated. As a result I stopped taking the creatine and switched to protein. When I found out that the body can produce creatine on its own there was no reason for me to take more. My opinion on coaches is that when it comes to certain topics they can be close minded and only see it their way. This can be from having a successful program or producing a lot of elite athletes but it is always healthy to debate and after reading the article and the comments it seems as though “Coach H” got offended because Brian was challenging is knowledge of the situation. I’ve been coached by all types of people and some can be stubborn but the majority are open minded so it’s a slippery slope when you try to debate with them

  15. Charles says:

    This is truly a sad story that such an individual, with such an elevated view of himself and a sardonic view of others, has unrestricted access to our youth today. The appalling part of this story is Parents not only allow the access – they seek out these people and joyously thrust their children under their supervision.

    On a second note:
    I wonder how much input this person really had in the creation of those 13 Olympians. Knowing it takes 8-10-12 years to make an Olympian – how many years was he actively involved in the athletes’ development, the first 12-18-24 months. We all know that within one year (or less) of an athlete moving on to a new environment (i.e. school, town, college) the athletes’ active coach can either build upon or destroy many years of sound training in a matter of months.

    If this person is working predominately with high school aged athletes’ – I would really like to see the results (longevity/injuries/achievements) of his 100+ Division I athletes. That information may be missing as it might paint a different picture of his results.

  16. Dean Jolly says:

    “i’ve been taking it for 25 years!’, have you stopped? what made you need to continue? Because when I say need, I mean addicted.
    No creatine= no good training? that would spell negative mentality towards the original desire to enjoy athletic abilities.
    My athletes DONT supplement unless they have a deficiency, avoiding a deficiency. I personally feel this is a crucial path that should be travelled for as long/ far as possible.
    When I say this I think of athletes on ergogenic aids that would fill a bath tub, but they still don’t have perfect athleticism( they have still not understood movement potential etc).

    There needs to be those ‘spanner throwers’, you Brian, it usually doesn’t get an instant response, but the on-lookers have been given some more to contemplate and the change lies in that.
    So good work, the work of a free thinking coach is not easy, it’s not what the coach thinks but what the athlete needs.

  17. Rob says:

    One of the best lines I ever heard was from Al Vermiel. “Coaches don’t make a kid fast or athletic it comes from good genetics”. To often coaches like to take credit for things they don’t do and in this case the D-1 scholarships mean nothing if the kids cannot play. Besides anyone who has played highschool sports knows that a lot NOT ALL coaches are used car salesman and manipulate kids and potential schools for their own benefit. I love the way you kept your composure with this guy. As always great stuff Brian!

  18. Mo Skelton says:

    Regardless of the supplement…Humans especially young ones have a propensity to convince themselves of the positive effects and then the next “great” thing will be better. It quickly becomes a snowball toward very negative behaviors.

    Coach H…if he is an expert…should be willing to at least let the public know his name and who all these athletes are…

    Credentials come from education and experience…not trophies and athletes.

    Mo Skelton PT,DPT,CSCS,YFS Level I

  19. Dave Gleason says:

    Something tells me his list of successful athletes were do DESPITE his coaching not because of it. As I have mentioned to you before Brian…there is not excuse for being stupid on purpose.


  20. Janila says:

    I believe the whole argument grew out of the mere incapability to be wrong. “Coach H’s” achievements certainly do not reflect his unrefined statements. He is just another gentleman determined to disprove your opinion. Brian, you have the IYCA–the family. He has the honor of bringing up 13 Olympians. Had.

  21. Dr. Kwame M Brown says:

    “If you want to become an Olympic level athlete, choose your parents wisely”. I am unimpressed by how many champion athletes someone has worked with. You can pick and choose whose on your team when you are a coach.

    I am impressed by people who make their decisions based on what is important for the health and growth of the young people in front of them. Therefore, I am impressed with Brian Grasso, I am impressed with the IYCA members I see on this board, and meet at our events. I am impressed with the people I see every day in Parks and Rec making a difference in kids’ lives.

    Coach H: I am not impressed with you. But it seems you are impressed with yourself. I wish you much bliss with your masturbatory intellect. But I quote Russell Crowe: “Your time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end”.

  22. Richard Holmes says:

    I hope i am not generalising when i say it sounds like you have a “deep” seated problem over there! I thought we were in the Information age!? I guess this hasn’t reached some. I still get quizzical looks with some the practices i apply in my sessions here in the UK – so the problem isn’t exclusive. Well handled though would have made good viewing as a debate.

  23. Larry Wood says:

    I enjoyed the argument but will have to say that Brian is right on target. I have been in the business for 25 years and have been a researcher with Dr. Richard Kreider and the likes for five years on the product creatine at the University of Memphis. I have my master’s in exercise physiology and minored in sports nutrition. As a competitive powerlifter, bodybuilder and maritial arts coach I see the massive amount of supplements being shoved into the faces of all of our athletes both young and old. I fully believe with our younger athletes we should preach the true hiearchy of training for the optimal performance of the human body. One are your athlete’s getting enough sleep, chances are no. Second, are they getting proper food stuffs that promote high levels of athletic play? Again, I bet not. So if these two parameters are not held true then how can any coach hope that their athlete will perform to the best of their ability. Lets promote good sleep, proper nutrition which includes ample H2O and sound training tactics. If they need a supplement, give them a multivitamin/mineral and tell them to drink more water. We can talk later about the older competitive athlete and supplements.

  24. laura says:

    Dear me…it sounds rather scary.
    I do not really believe that kids may need any supplements unless prescribed by a Doctor or Paediatrician .
    When are we going to realise that every single one of us is unique and different and so r kids?, no mention boys and girls you just cannot expect the same can you?
    I am quite prone to question things…even the tangible ones, so when I come across with people that don’t it is a hell of a experience…the feel that they posses the truth or else?
    Unless you have the evidence you better stay quiet.
    PT-Pilates & Crossfit Trainer

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