Archive for “youth sports training” Category

Rotational Power Development for Hitting & Throwing Sports

Rotational Power Development for Hitting & Throwing Sports can be overlooked but it is extremely beneficial for sports like baseball, softball, football, track, basketball and many others.

In this blog we will cover four movements to develop rotational power.

Rotation movements help to develop coordination in young athletes by learning how to use the kinetic chain (whole body) to develop force.

The ability to develop more ground reaction force and transfer that force to the other side of the body, is a beneficial skill to develop. Typically movements are performed with a lighter percentage of weight (Barbell, Cable, Medicine Ball) at a high velocity.

It is important that movements are performed with maximum intent to achieve greater stimulus.

Four Movements to Develop Rotational Power

Landmine Rotational Press (VIDEO)

Using a Barbell with a landmine attachment the athlete will start in a hip hinge position with one hand on the end of the bar facing laterally. The goal is to transfer the bar into the opposite hand in full extension as quickly as possible.

Athletes have to drive force into the ground and use the hips to rotate while transferring weight to the lead leg. This movement requires power and coordination to move the bar fast.

Cable Rotation (VIDEO)

Having power and stability throughout the core of an athlete is an important component to performance and injury prevention.

This exercise involves using the core along with the hips to rotate the load of the cable with the arms with high velocity.

Perform cable rotations from various heights and angles to develop power in planes of movement the athlete will use in their sport.

Rotational Box/Broad Jump (VIDEO)

Rotational box/broad jumps are bodyweight movements where athletes can learn how to load and drive off mostly one leg, while controlling their upper body/landing mechanics.

These movements include a quick eccentric to concentric transfer of force to jump vertically or horizontally.

Track progress by measuring broad jump length/box jump height.

MB Rotation/Scoop Toss (VIDEO)

Medicine ball slams/tosses are an extremely versatile tool for rotational power development.

Standing rotation slam includes lifting the ball overhead and rotating the hips to slam the ball to the side of the foot as hard as possible.

Allow the hips to rotate while transitioning overhead to develop more power in the slam.

MB Scoop toss is another great exercise that includes setting up lateral to a wall and rotating the torso and hips to throw the ball with high velocity against the wall. A MB of 6-20 pounds is a good range for high school athletes.

Author: Lucas Mayo, MS, CSCS

Lucas Mayo is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Brighton High School for Impact Sports Performance. Lucas is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Lucas earned his Master’s degree in Sport Coaching and Leadership with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning.

Using methods based on research and experience, his mission is to aid in the positive mental and physical development of the athlete or individual over the course of their lifespan.

It’s time to Develop Speed & Power like the Pros with this Free Resource

Why Youth Sports is a Losing Game and We Must Change

As an industry, we are playing a losing game right now and it’s time to look in the mirror. Consider this, if seven out of ten employees quit their job at a company due to burnout or overuse, it’s fair to assume the company would be concerned.

So what makes the youth sports industry any different…why aren’t we paying attention to our younger kids, seeing the red flags or doing something about this?

Perhaps some are, but it’s going to take MUCH more.

You may be wondering what we are talking about, and this is the first step…awareness.  It starts here and in this article we hope to bring awareness to the problem and a staggering statistic that is plaguing our industry and setting our children and future generations up for failure.

In a recent study, by the American Academy of Pediatrics they stated that although over 60 million children and adolescents currently participate in organized sports, attrition rates remain staggeringly high, with 70% of youth athletes choosing to discontinue participation in organized sports by 13 years of age.

Look around your teams, training sessions and end-of-season parties, the likelihood is that 7 out of every 10 athletes will be done playing sports before they reach high school

Most likely, the majority of those 70% will either get injured and sit or burnout and quit. This isn’t even considering the possibility that some athletes’ that remain playing, only do so because they feel they have to or are obligated to.

According to the study, the professionalization of youth sports is widely considered responsible and is a result of high volumes of training, the pressure to specialize which can increase odds of injuries, overtraining and burnout (2,3).

Burnout, however,  is only one reason for dropout, others on the list include a loss of interest, lack of available time, interest in other activities, lack of playing time and lack of fun.

If you are reading these numbers as a coach, trainer, parent, athletic director or ANYONE who facilitates or coaches teams, we hope that it strikes a chord. Perhaps, even, there may be doubt about theses statistics?

If that is the case, don’t take it from us, get out there and educate yourself with credible resources and research.

In a take home message from Pediatric Child Health, participation in organized sports should be aimed at the developmental level (which may not be the ‘chronological age’) of the participants so that they enjoy being physically active. (2)

Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of activities and avoid early specialization.(2)

Parents can be instrumental in promoting physical activity and sport participation in their children by ensuring that children are having fun at their development level. To provide a basis for lifelong involvement, parents and coaches should strive to provide positive sport experiences for children that match their interests and developmental capabilities. (2)

We hope you are asking…how do we fix this?

This is a question we’ve been asking for years, and the truth is, we need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to reverse these trends.

We must change as a collective industry if we want to move toward a more sustainable direction for our young athletes. Parents, sport coaches, trainers, sport organization officials and schools must collectively come together and collaborate versus compete. We must work in synergy, not against each other, and we must keep the athlete a priority.

Are you with us?

So, where do we go from here?

There are some STOPS & STARTS we recommend so we set our future athletes up for the WIN not just in sport, but in life well into adult-hood.

1. START teaching foundational and functional skill development while promoting a well rounded approach to their overall development as an athlete respective to their athletic & developmental age. (Learn more about Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy and how to do this)

2. START facilitating workouts & practices that are engaging, memorable and exciting with age appropriate games and training to keep sessions and practices engaging and FUN. (See the Long Term Athlete Development Model)

3. START encouraging and planning for athletes to take adequate time off- at least 1 or 2 days a week- to rest and recover.

4. STOP encouraging athletes to specialize, defined as: “year-round intensive training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports.”(3) START taking OFF 2-3 months (they don’t have to be subsequent) from individual sports.. 

5. START supporting athletes’ in playing another sport while taking a ‘break’ and/or START seeing a Certified Performance Coach who is Certified to teach Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy principles. (Recommended Certification)

6. START emphasizing and celebrating athletes in their process goals vs their performance outcomes.

7. START prioritizing the WHOLE athlete. Encourage mindfulness and emphasize overall habits of athletic health (Hydration, Nutrition, Sleep, Mindset, Motion, Relationships, etc). Seek out or become a specialist beyond the ‘skill of the game’ when needed.

8. START implementing the Long Term Athlete Development Model and reinforcing Physical Literacy principles or seek out a performance professional who is Certified to Coach athletes at their developmental and athletic ages, which could be different than their chronological age. (Recommended Certification).

9. STOP coaching all athletes the same. START understanding how they need to be coached to be most successful, and adjust to meet them where they are at.

10. Lastly, START 1-9 as soon as possible!

There is no doubt that involvement in sports can be extraordinary and positive experiences for young athletes, but we have a long way to go in providing these experiences consistently.  We believe that this should be the duty and mission of every Sport Coach, Sports Organization, Athletic Director, Performance Professional and Parent.

As an organization, The IYCA strives to positively impact the healthy living habits and behaviors of tomorrow’s generation. We know that developmentally-sound, purposeful, and fun movement exposures provided through conditioning, fitness and sports are critical building blocks in developing from the younger years and well into adulthood.

The first step is awareness, then education and action!

We know that some may read this right now and not take action, but some of you will be ready to join this mission and take action. If that is you, keep reading! Below are  two of our best resources that will start to bridge the gap that is causing our athletes to drop out, burnout and lose.

If you are a community builder and want to play your part in reversing this staggering trend in your community, then the IYCA Certified Athlete Development Specialist is the perfect stepping stone to furthering your knowledge in order to provide extraordinary long-term experiences for the athletes you work with.

If you are looking to learn more and further your knowledge on how to develop athletes long term in a healthy and appropriate way but aren’t in need of a certification, then a great next step would be Long Term Athlete Development: The Lifelong Training Roadmap


Now, let’s go WIN THIS game!

– The International Youth Conditioning Association



1. Joel S. Brenner, MD, MPH, FAAP; Andrew Watson, MD, MS, FAAP; COUNCIL ON SPORTS MEDICINE AND FITNESS https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/153/2/e2023065129/196435/Overuse-Injuries-Overtraining-and-Burnout-in-Young


2. Sport readiness in children and youth. Paediatr Child Health. 2005 Jul;10(6):343-4. PMID: 19675844; PMCID: PMC2722975.

3. Jayanthi N, Kleithermes S, Dugas L, Pasulka J, Iqbal S, LaBella C. Risk of Injuries Associated With Sport Specialization and Intense Training Patterns in Young Athletes: A Longitudinal Clinical Case-Control Study. Orthop J Sports Med. 2020 Jun 25;8(6):2325967120922764. doi: 10.1177/2325967120922764. PMID: 32637428; PMCID: PMC7318830.

Physical Literacy: The Game and Beyond

Athletic development across the lifespan is a complex process that is heavily influenced by the cognitive and physical maturity of the individual. Unfortunately, conditioning and fitness programming for the developing athlete have most often been designed around routines initially intended for adult and elite level athletes.

This is NOT appropriate or effective and can set kids up for failure. It can also put the young athlete at risk for acute and chronic injury.

By understanding the process of motor development, the coach or youth fitness professional will be far better equipped to create long-term programs that are developmentally appropriate every step of the way. This will only optimize the experience of the young athlete in the game and beyond the game.

Physical literacy is the goal and the cornerstone of basic human movement and fundamental movement skills. It is described as motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and engage in a physically active lifestyle (1. Longmuir C, Boyer C et al.)

The youth fitness professional, parents and sport coaches must apply the concepts of physical literacy in order to ensure that the child may have the best opportunity to develop and achieve success in movement, sport, and life. 

This needs to be a combined effort from coaches, trainers, parents/guardians, and children.

Developing the fundamental movement skills (e.g., walking, running, and jumping) happens early on in a child’s life. Unfortunately, being unable to perform fundamental movement skills can restrict later opportunities, which is why it is vital to develop physical literacy early in the child’s life. 

As coaches, if we hope to create great athletes who have a chance at being successful for the long haul, then your programs must be based on Long Term Athletic Development.

Just like a baby must learn to roll over before crawling, crawl before standing, stand before walking, and walk before running, your athletes need to build a foundation for elite level athletic performance before they can reach their maximum potential.

When athletes specialize early and skip critical steps in building this foundation, they are at extreme risk for injury and burnout. The trouble is, building that foundation early isn’t always sexy. And often coaches may not understand the exact steps to building the foundation.

However, that’s not your fault! Many are inundated with ‘influence’ of non-experts in this area and it’s at a detriment to our kids.

When it comes down to it, you and the athletes want results, and you’ve been told that specialization is the way to do it. Unfortunately this is wrong and setting our athletes up for failure, in their game and beyond their game. 

But the trends are shifting, and it’s time to get back on the path towards Physical Literacy and Long Term Athlete Development for EVERY athlete!

The very first step in any effort towards change, is to gain education. Our Long Term Athlete Development Roadmap is the perfect place to start or enhance your current knowledge. 

Will you join the mission with us? 

We cannot do this alone and we need other parents, trainers, school administration, sport coaches and professionals to stand up for Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy.

It’s time to move. Our athletes’ will thank us!

We’d love to hear from you, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!


1. Longmuir C, Boyer C, Lloyd M, Yang Y, Boiarskaia E, Zhu W, Tremblay M. The Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy: methods for children in grades 4 to 6 (8-12 years). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532252/#CR1

2. Gleason, D, Brooks, T, Fleming, W.  Long Term Athlete Development: The Lifelong Training Roadmap. https://iyca.org/ltad/

The Right Time for Youth Athletes to Start Training – Brett Bartholomew

When is the right time for youth athletes to start training?  This is a question parents ask all the time, and it’s something that athletic develop specialists need to be able to address in great detail.  The key to the entire process of long term athlete development is to expose athletes to as many different activities as possible and not rush the process.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  The IYCA’s flagship certification, the Certified Athletic Development Specialist, is an entire course dedicated to this process, so there are many things to take into consideration.  We need to understand how to teach exercises adequately, choose exercises appropriately, create a proper training schedule, change exercises/programming when necessary and more.

Long-time friend of the IYCA, Brett Bartholomew, spends a lot of time addressing coaching & communication issues, and he has become one of the industry’s foremost experts in that area.  But, because Brett has had such a wealth of experiences, he often addresses other important topics.  In this video, Brett gives an amazingly concise answer to the question of when athletes should begin training:

To be clear, Brett’s does not go into detail on the specifics of developing athletes, but his explanation almost perfectly mirrors the views of the IYCA – give kids lots of different activities, avoid specialization, understand training age, don’t focus on competition, and “slow cook” the process.

Often, experienced coaches know a lot about athletic development, but have a difficult time putting all of their knowledge into words.  This is the kind of video you can share with other parents and coaches to help them understand the process without going into too much detail.

We hope Brett’s video helps you verbalize the importance of the LTAD model, and gives you ammunition to continue doing what’s best for young athletes.


Brett Bartholomew is a strength and conditioning coach, author, consultant, and Founder of Art of Coaching™. His experience includes working with athletes both in the team environment and private sector along with members of the United States Special Forces and members of Fortune 500 companies.

Taken together, Brett has coached a diverse range of athletes from across 23 sports world-wide, at levels ranging from youth athletes to Olympians. He’s supported numerous Super Bowl and World Series Champions, along with several professional fighters in both professional boxing as well as the UFC.  Visit ArtofCoaching.com for more information or follow Brett on all social media platforms for daily updates.


For more information on developing athletes, the IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

10 Ways to Improve Athleticism in Young Athletes – Jeremy Frisch

Like King Arthur searched for the legendary Holy Grail, many coaches, parents, and sports performance experts are on a quest to find the perfect way to improve athleticism and develop young athletes into world champions.  So far, no perfect formula has been created.  There are simply too many variables involved for anyone to create a magical pathway that can be replicated over and over again to churn our world class athletes like a factory.improve athleticism

Instead, science and experience have taught us a lot about athletic development so that we can apply fundamental principles and methods throughout an athlete’s life, sort of like an artist painting a picture.

Jeremy Frisch has come up with a list of 10 ways to improve athleticism in young athletes that draw on many of the fundamental principles taught in all IYCA materials.  As you read this list, you should appreciate the simplicity of what is being shared.  As many people look for new, sexy, and innovative ways to developing athleticism, Jeremy has drawn on his experiences working with thousands of young athletes to boil things down into simple tasks that need to be repeated and varied throughout a child’s life.

Enjoy Jeremy’s list and be sure to comment below:

1. Jumping: Jumping is the secret weapon to develop explosiveness… there is no such thing as jumping slow. Jump for height, jump for distance, jump over, sideways, side-to-side, one foot, two feet and with twists and turns. The more variety the better the coordination developed.

2. Sprinting: The best age to develop the foundation for speed is ages 7-11. Kids need not worry about technique and should only be concerned with effort. Max effort will help self organize technique. Simply challenge them to give their best effort by using racing, chasing and relay races.

3. Calisthenics: The simple stuff like we did back in P. E. Remember jumping jacks? How about the lost art of jumping rope? Calisthenics are a fantastic tool for warming up and coordination activities. Simple? Yes… but much more effective than jogging around a soccer field if the goal is to improve athleticism.

4. Gymnastics: Gymnastic activities develop body awareness, landing/falling skills, static and dynamic positions, balance, body toughness. You don’t need Olympic routines to get benefits, simply learning how to roll, cartwheel and various static holds can go a long way to improve athleticism.

5. Strength: Strength training is not just lifting weights. For children it can come in other forms like tug of war, monkey bars, rope climbing, play, parkour and ninja warrior. The key is using activities that require the athlete to create muscular tension.

6. Pick-up games: Any sports game like flag football, baseball, basketball, wiffleball, etc. or made up classic games like capture the flag, dodgeball and pickle. The key is minimal adult intervention. Let the kids decide the rules, winners and losers.improve athleticism through pick up games

7. Tag: (the athlete maker) The game of tag develops all around agility. Sprinting, stopping, starting, spatial awareness… mixed in with a whole bunch of decision making and, of course, all-around fun. Tag carries over to almost every sport. Play in different size spaces or make up different rules for variety.

8. Stop playing one sport all year around: Multiple sports develop multiple skills…the more skills the better the all-around athlete…skills transfer! Physically, the body gets a rest from repetitive stress and mentally, the athlete stays fresh from new activities.

9. Screen time: Limit screen time as much as possible. Eyes get fixed in a two dimensional landscape, and sitting for long periods is not good for anyone. Sensory overload without a physical outlet creates stress, anxiety and angry outbursts.

10. Have Fun: If young athletes have fun they are 90% there. When kids have fun, they come back and the more
consistency they have the more skills they develop over time without even realizing it.


Jeremy Frisch is the owner and director of Achieve Performance Training in Clinton, Massachusetts. Although he trains people of all ages and abilities, his main focus is to improve athleticism in young athletes, physical education, and physical literacy.

Jeremy is the former assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Holy Cross athletic department. Prior to joining Holy Cross, Frisch served as the sports performance director at Competitive Athlete Training Zone in Acton, Massachusetts. In 2004, he did a strength and conditioning internship at Stanford University. Frisch is a 2007 graduate of Worcester State College, with a bachelor’s degree in health science and physical education.

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Effective Communication: Starting the Conversation – Jill Kochanek

Effective communication is based on the needs of each player and team. When coaches give players voice, we can more fully understand what our athletes need to feel optimally supported. This post offers coaches useful activities for addressing what effective communication means for their team and athletes. Though just a starting point, this session is an example of how coaches can start a conversation with players to glean valuable information about their needs and co-create team standards for effective communication.

As many of us finish up the winter season, I want to bring up a topic, which comes up a lot in my work with athlete and coaches: effective communication. This entry explores what effective communication means for your team and athletes. To do so, I offer a recap of a session on effective communication that I’ve facilitated with my high school student-athletes. You might consider integrating any, or all, of these activities as an off-the-field preseason session. These activities are meant to draw on team knowledge and co-create communication standards with your athletes. Reflection and discussion centers on several questions: What type of communication does an athlete/teammate need and when? What constitutes effective communication on our team? What does effective communication look like in action? Feel free to use, leave out, or adapt any aspect of this session to best fit you as a coach, your context, and athletes.

Before I overview the session, let me give some background on what led me to the “communication” drawing board. Last year, communication became a point of emphasis for my high school girls’ team. We started the season with a young squad, only one senior, a sizable freshmen class, and several returning players who had only joined us the year prior. Some might call this a “rebuilding year.” I cringe when I hear that statement because it can shift a coach’s focus from improving based on where athletes are at to a preoccupation with proving oneself (as a coach or team). When coaches adopt this mentality, doing so can come at the expense of athlete development. Optimally challenging (and raising the bar for) players becomes a more difficult task when we safeguard against defeat and lower expectations before our players even step onto the field. As coaches, let’s not fall into this trap!

Young teams might lack the foundational skills that you wish they possessed, but these groups present a unique opportunity for coaches as culture creator to establish—and reinforce—good habits. If coaches plant these seeds with athletes early on, they are more likely to internalize those behavior patterns and model them for new and future players.

As a younger group, we not only lacked on-field communication but also clear standards for what effective communication meant on our team. The mix of inexperience and diverse player personalities led to instances of ineffective communication: younger players feeling as though older players were bossing them around, and older players feeling as though younger players were not listening or committed. After a few conflicts between players, our coaching staff decided that the group would benefit from more an explicit conversation on effective communication.

Here is a breakdown of the session—keeping this caveat in mind: as with technical/tactical skill building, culture building and behavior change are on-going processes. One session on effective communication will not be a complete cure-all. Consistent reinforcement is essential for players, and coaches, to internalize desired values and actions. As coaches, we not only need to model these behaviors. And, we need to encourage players when they effectively communicate and own our mistakes when we fall short of doing so.

Effective Communication Session Synopsis

Activity I: Effective communication on our team
I started by asking the girls to think of a recent moment in which a teammate effectively communicated to them (e.g., encouragement, instruction, suggestion, or criticism). They wrote down who that teammate was, what happened, and why the communication was effective for them. This was meant to guide athletes to self-reflect on their needs, but also gave them a chance to recognize their teammates.

Debrief: As a group, we discussed their responses. I did not have each girl share their who-what-why, but took notice of which players spoke up (or did not) and who was actively listening. Several girls offered their responses, and I probed players to consider commonalities and differences across examples. We distilled these anecdotes down to key characteristics of effective communication on our team, which were honest, direct, & positive. With this definition, I emphasized to players that it’s not just what we say that is impactful, but how we communicate—that communication needs to be honest and selfless. Praise that is not earnest can undermine our legitimacy as the communicator and backfire. At the same time, our communication should aim to help teammates be successful—to build each other up—not break us down. When players know that teammates mean well, and are genuinely trying to support our success, they will be more open to receiving corrective instruction (or constructive criticism) and less likely to take feedback personally.

The first reflective activity helped our group established what effective communication means for our team. While we might define communication that is honest, direct, and positive as our team standard, I asked players to consider if, and how, effective communication might depend on the individual and context. Though we might defer to honest, direct, and positive feedback in most teammate interactions and team situations, how we communicate may depend on who we are working with and how they show up on that day.

Activity II: Effective communication as individual and context specific
I asked each girl to write down what kind of communication they need from their teammates (or coaches) when they are having a good day versus bad day. I clarified that the good-bad day scenario could be for a host of reasons, including but not limited to sport-related events. I invited each player to share her perspective with the group in this second activity. In this case, I wanted to give each person the opportunity to speak to her needs, and likewise teammates (and myself) the chance to listen and gain insight into how to best support each player. Here were some of common responses from our group:

“I am motivated by the little things. It’s a huge boost when you catch me, and let me know, that I doing the little things well.”

“I want limited feedback on my bad days.”
“Hold me accountable when things aren’t going my way.”
“I just want you to tell me what to do!”

“I need positive reinforcement no matter what kind of day I am having. I had a bad coach when I was younger. He would always scream at us, and it’s still hard for me to shake that.”

Debrief: Once players shared what they need in terms of communication, I identified some of the common themes and differences across our responses. Then, I circled back to our team captains and asked what they thought were key take-home messages from our activities for us, as a team, to take away from the session and how we put that information into action. Give them the space and agency to communicate to their teammates, establish expectations, and define actions. After they spoke, I validated their responses and asked if anyone else from the group has something to add.

This session is one example of how to start a conversation with your players to glean valuable information about their needs and co-create team standards for effective communication. Effective communication is individual and context specific—based on the needs of each player and team. When coaches give players voice, we can more fully understand what our young people need to feel optimally supported. At the end of the day, it’s not about us – it’s about them.

Facilitating a session on effective communication, however, is not a quick fix—it’s a starting point. Consistent reinforcement of effective communication when coaches catch players doing so is necessary for all team members to internalize those behaviors. Along with praiseworthy actions, coaches need to attend to “challenge moments”: when players (or coaches themselves) fall short of effectively communicating based on team standards. Coaches can use “challenge moments” as opportunities to reinforce desired behaviors (or acknowledge their own mistakes) and encourage athletes to see mistakes as a part of the learning and culture-building process.

Overcoming the Awkwardness of the Pre-puberty Growth Spurt – Brett Klika

Imagine spending years learning how to drive a race car, then, nearly overnight, someone changes the dimensions, transmission, and engine power in that car. In order to get back into racing condition, it’s going to take some time learning how to use the new equipment.  This is very similar to the scenario many young athletes find themselves in as they experience rapid growth at the onset of puberty.

As most young athletes begin the transition into puberty sometime between the 6th-8th grade, they will undoubtedly experience limitations in mobility, stability, and coordination that result from the rapid growth of their limbs and an increase in body mass.   

This “peak height velocity” usually happens between age 12 and 14 for most young athletes, girls peaking before boys. As bones grow rabidly, proprioceptors in the muscles, joints, and tendons have to recalibrate. During this recalibration period, coaches often witness previously mobile, fluid athletes become stiff and slightly awkward. They may experience difficulty and pain during activities that never bothered them before. 

To minimize frustration and keep these young athletes progressing, it’s important for coaches to look at training progression differently as their athletes are adjusting to their “new” bodies. 

This doesn’t suggest a complete overhaul of a young athlete’s training progress. It may merely mean assessing where limitations exist and integrating some pro-active strategies into warm- ups, specific skill work, and even general conditioning in order to minimize pain and frustration while maximizing progress. 

When working with athletes at the onset of puberty, I have found three easy-to-integrate strategies to be effective in overcoming many of the limitations introduced by the pubertal “growth spurt”. 

Strategy #1:  Go Primal

Primal, fundamental movements like crawling, climbing, skipping, carrying, and others are often the first to be introduced to children because they are highly effective in “wiring” the proprioceptive system to accommodate effective mobility, strength, and overall coordination. 

For athletes in the throes of their pubescent growth spurt, these movements can help maintain or even reestablish this proprioceptive wiring. Ingrate more crawls, pushes, pulls, carries, get-ups, step-over/under, etc. as part of a general or specific warm up. Better yet, utilize these movements in your core programming as conditioning or skill work. 

“Cheetah Crawl”

Strategy #2: Highlight Isometric Work

Isometric training is one of the most under-utilized forms of training for both children and adults. By removing complex variables like joint velocity and limb precision, isometric training allows for the basic levels of mobility, stability, and strength to be established.  This can be just what that doctor ordered for young athletes growing into their new pubescent bodies. 

Isometric hangs, wall pushes, squat and lunge holds, and other movements are great program additions either during warm- ups, skill work, or during other strategic times during training for growing athletes. I have found that by directly preceding a movement like the squat or lunge with a static version (i.e. hold a lunge position for 10 seconds then do 5 controlled cadence repetitions), these athletes can do the movement with fewer limitations. 

In addition to static work, controlling the cadence of a movement can help coaches identify where the most common range of motion limitations exist and address them appropriately. A simple example would be the coach prompting the “down” and “up” of a bodyweight squat or lunge. 

It’s important to note the goal of isometrics and controlled cadence isn’t just “making it burn” and creating painful fatigue. Monitor your athlete’s ability to execute an isometric or controlled cadence movement effectively without excessive fatigue.  If an athlete has experienced rapid growth in limb length or body mass, even static versions of an exercise may prove to be too challenging from a mobility or strength standpoint.  In this case, don’t’ be afraid to integrate movement regressions that decrease the impact of body mass. For example, the athlete can hold onto a suspended band while holding a lunge position. 

Example of Band Assisted Work (Split Squat)

Strategy #3 Movement Transitions

New limb length, body mass, and a change in force production can make a growing athlete appear awkward when they move.  This is highlighted when transitioning from one movement pattern or pathway to another. For example, an athlete does a linear movement like a sprint, then must decelerate, re-orient, and execute a lateral shuffle. 

Taking this into account, it’s important to not only double down on reinforcing the body mechanics associated with acceleration, deceleration, and direction change, but facilitate activities that require a transition from one movement to another. 

Spending more training time with tactical (sport-related) movement transitions like linear to lateral, forward to backward, etc. in addition to more generalized transitions like crawling or jumping to running and similar movement patterns will pay dividends in re-establishing smoother, more efficient movement for athletes at the onset of puberty.  Integrate multi-movement transition circuits into conditioning activities, even if they aren’t specific to the tactical needs of a specific sport. 

Movement Transition “Obstacle Course”

When working with athletes at the peak of their growth velocity, keep these strategies in your tool- box.  Similar to extremely young children, these athletes are re-learning how to navigate their new developmental hardware. Integrating the basics listed above is not a “step back” in training progression. It can actually become a powerful step forward in ensuring your young athletes have the mobility, stability, and coordination they need as the progress through puberty and beyond. 

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.


The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Politics and Athletic Development? – Jim Kielbaso

This election season has really gotten me to think about things in a way that relates to athletic development and the business of strength & conditioning. Now, before you get upset thinking I’m gonna talk about politics, I’m not!  Instead, I’ve noticed that the way we consume politics is very similar to the way we consume information about strength and conditioning, and it’s probably not the best way for us to make decisions.

In my opinion, one of the most important traits we can have is the ability to keep an open mind, research facts, and not get swept up in feelings, half-truths, and people saying whatever they feel like.

I’m talking about strength and conditioning right now, not politics!

I’m talking about understanding complex training concepts and knowing the facts.  But, the only way you’re going to know the facts is by digging deep and finding out what actually works, not what people SAY works or what you FEEL works.

A lot of people make programming decisions based on things like “well, so and so said this” or “I’m doing this program because this other coach or sports figure does it” or “I really think this looks cool.”  I also hear A LOT of people say things like “in my experience….” Well, experience certainly matters, but if you haven’t been in coaching for years, trusting your limited experience could be a mistake. You may want to count on the experiences of people who have been doing it for 20, 30, 40 years.

And, saying you read something doesn’t automatically make it a fact. If you read it in a magazine, on a blog, or on Twitter, that is NOT the same as reading it in a scientific journal, taking a course, or learning from a coach who has been in the trenches for 20 years. These are big differences and the election cycle kind of got me thinking about this because I’m noticing a lot of people also making both their political AND training decisions based on small bits of information without getting more details.

We see something on Instagram from someone with a bunch of followers, and we instantly think it must be the truth instead of digging deeper, doing our own research and getting the whole story.  So, whether it’s politics or strength & conditioning, it’s important to get the whole story before you make a decision.

I think we need to think about foundational concepts and ignore too much hype or what “everybody else is doing.” We don’t need to pick sides and follow people blindly based on who your friends like.  Do you really decide who to vote for by seeing signs on the road? Or do you make up your mind based on facts and digging in and actually learning about what’s going on?

Are you able to sift through the garbage on the internet? In both cases, politics and strength and conditioning, we are on absolute overload with garbage.  In politics, they call it fake news.  In S & C, it’s called bro-science.  There’s too much out there and it’s hard to sift through it all. How can we sift through it all? We can’t. It’s impossible. But you can’t check social media and call that education. It’s not. It’s just social media where there are no fact-checkers, and there’s just too much out there to keep track of everything.

It has really become a challenge for many professionals to dive deep into a topic because we’ve gotten so used to short blips of information. Many coaches make training decisions based on a YouTube video or Instagram post. If you see something on social media, that should prompt you to dig deeper into what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about, and how you’re making your decisions. It shouldn’t be your only source of information.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have a perfect way of telling you to sift through the garbage other than explaining what I do. First, I find lots of different sources of information. Of course, I use social media, but I also go to scientific journals, I take courses, I have multiple degrees, I read lots of books, I attend conferences, and I go to people who have many years of experience in the industry who put out quality information and who are in the trenches daily.  These people have been doing it for years, documenting the results, analyzing their experiences and their programs, and then making decisions based on those analytics.

I try hard to determine what the actual training effect is going to be from any exercise or stimulus.  You need at least a basic background in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology to understand how the body might adapt to a particular stimulus, but this is very, very important.  You also need to have an understanding of HOW MUCH of a stimulus is necessary in order to elicit an adaptation.  We also know that our nervous system can learn new skills, but if we don’t know a little about motor learning, we may not understand exactly how to get the nervous system to learn quicker.

Yes, you actually need to understand the processes involved in adaptation. Otherwise, you’ll watch a cool looking exercise on Instagram and decide to use it just because it’s new.  New might look cool, but it is not always good or useful.  There may be a reason that no one has ever seen this exercise.  Maybe it’s fluff.

Along with the effectiveness of a training stimulus, you have to weigh the risk vs. benefit to help determine whether it’s the right choice to include in a program.  For example, when I see kids standing on stability balls or doing circus tricks, I feel like the training benefit is incredibly small while the risk is fairly high.  Or, I’ll see kids stacking a bunch of plates up on top of boxes to see how high they can jump.  Again, the training benefit of jumping onto a box is no greater than jumping in the air as high as you can and landing on the ground, but the risk is MUCH greater.  So, I personally don’t feel like the risk outweighs the benefit.

I will also try to determine if something is economical.  Basically, is this new exercise or training method worth the time an athlete will have to put into it?  Does it give you a good “bang for the buck” or is the potential benefit so small that it’s basically wasting time.  And, every time you choose to do an exercise, you are simultaneously deciding to NOT do every other exercise in the world.  So, it better be worthwhile.

Finally, I have to decide if a particular method is right for every athlete or just for certain athletes.

I like to find multiple people or sources to discuss training so I can understand several angles. I try to take in as much as I can and keep an open mind while I’m doing it.

It is okay to change your mind. It’s certainly good to question the validity of new things, but it’s also OK to learn something new and admit that you’re either wrong or didn’t know something.  Mike Boyle is one of the most respected coaches in the profession, and he has changed his mind many times.  In politics, it would be called a flip-flop.  In training, it’s called learning and evolving….which is good!

So, I hope you can see that this wasn’t supposed to be political at all, but the way we consume politics has many parallels to the way we have been consuming training information.  I think it’s time to take a step back, slow down, and dig deeper into topics.  We should have a thorough understanding of training methods before we use them with athletes.  If we don’t, we are walking blindly through the forest, hoping to find a path home.

And, I think we can all agree that we can be better than anything happening in politics.


Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, Michigan.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

Brain Development Through Exercise – Brett Klika

As youth strength and conditioning coaches, we know that teaching kids movement skills at a young age increases the likelihood they will be active and athletic for life. What we sometimes take for granted, however, is the dramatic impact these physical skills have on the overall development of a child’s brain.

A growing body of evidence is now highlighting how movement during the early developmental years of high neuroplasticity plays a key role in the development of areas of the brain responsible for memory, informational processing, impulse control, and behavior. In the current world of youth inactivity, this means that our role as movement coaches is critical not only for physical development, but cognitive development as well.

It’s important that we not only understand the relationship between movement and brain development, but can communicate this information to the parents, teachers, and other youth influencers in our community.

Below is outlined some of the important functions that different types of movement training have in regards to developing a young athlete’s brain.

Aerobic Exercise and Brain Development
One of the broadest fields of study on movement and brain development has looked at the impact of aerobic exercise on the brain. It appears that even the simplest exercise program that elevates heart rate for an extended period of time can impact a young athlete’s brain development in the following ways:

Positive impact on structures and activity in the prefrontal cortex
The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain that is responsible for many of our rational behaviors such as reasoning, problem solving, impulse control, and creativity. Collectively, this is often referred to as “executive function.” (8)

Aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, particularly in an area called the anterior cingulate cortex. The anterior cingulate cortex plays a role in motivation, attention, and emotional regulation. With increased activity in this region, children demonstrate improved measures of behavior. (3)

Increased Size of the hippocampus
The hippocampus is a structure in the brain responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and behavioral inhibition. Aerobic exercise appears to increase the size of the Hippocampus, resulting in improvements in memory and math performance. (2,7)

Increase basal ganglia volume
The basal ganglia is an area of the brain associated with controlled movement, procedural learning, and cognition. It appears aerobic fitness increases the volume of this area of the brain, having a direct impact on the decision-making process between stimulus and response. In other words, young athletes learn to think before they act! (1)

Increased brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
BDNF acts like a fertilizer for neural tissue. Aerobic exercise appears to increase BDNF levels in the brain. This aids in the growth and maintenance of a variety of critical brain structures. (5,7)

Angiogenesis is the growth and proliferation of new blood vessels. Research has observed that aerobic exercise increases angiogenesis, and as a result, blood supply, to key areas of the brain associated with learning and behavior. (4)

The above list just scratches the surface of how something as simple as elevating a young athlete’s heart rate can improve their capacity for learning and behavior. However, youth strength and conditioning often move past merely elevating the heart rate as they help kids develop a large toolbox of athletic movement.

Let’s take a look at what some of these coordinated movement patterns can do to the development of the brain.

Athletic Coordination Training and the Brain
Adapting to the different rhythms, spatial constraints, body positions, and other factors of athletic movement appear to impact the brain as well. Dr. John Ratey, a best-selling author and pioneer in researching the impact of movement on classroom performance suggests that as the complexity of a movement activity increases, so does the number of synaptic connections in the brain. (5)

The more of these connections that can be formed, the better opportunities children have to improve their brain/body connection. Below are some specific ways increasing movement complexity impacts the brain.

Crossing the midline
There exists an imaginary vertical midline that divides the brain and body into two equal hemispheres. Within this functional model, the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice-versa.

When a limb from the left hemisphere of the body attempts to cross over to the right hemisphere, and vice versa, it creates temporary confusion in the brain. In order to continue to control the action of that limb, information has to be rapidly exchanged between the hemispheres of the brain.

The “highway” in which this info is exchanged is called the corpus callosum. When young athletes are forced to cross their midline with the upper or lower body, the hemispheres of the brain get to practice this passing of information. This improves the smoothness of movement transitions and may also help neural communication within the hemispheres of the brain, especially when these activities are performed when kids are young.

Balance Spelling (Progress to Balance on One Leg)

Different movement tempos
The constant acceleration and deceleration of many athletic activities places a large demand on the different areas of the brain associated with timing and rhythm. In his book, SPARK, Dr. Ratey discusses research examining how varied, irregular movement tempo increases BDNF in the brain to an even high degree than repetitive movement. (5)

Additionally, the area of the brain that addresses movement tempo is also active when executing grammar skills. Research has discovered a relationship between a child’s ability to adapt their movement rhythm and their proficiency with grammar skills. (6)

In other words, the constant tempo changes of agility drills not only improve on field performance, it helps grow young brains!

My Gears

Balance and body orientation challenges
When children do physical activities that require them to balance and/or change the orientation of their body to the ground, they challenge the brain structures associated with the vestibular system. This system is anchored by inner ear structures that can determine the position of the head in relation to the ground, in addition to the speed and direction the head is moving.

As a young athlete’s head changes position, the vestibular system sends out signals to other limbs, joints, and muscles to do what’s necessary to “right the ship”. The more a young athlete is forced to go through this process, the better the system works.

Inactive kids often demonstrate a poor or reduced vestibular function. They either have to fidget constantly to provide positional feedback to the brain, or they are overly sensitive to movement, particularly fast movement. Either way, it can lead to disruptions in attention and behavior.

4-Way Balance and Move

All of the above are in addition to the other short and long-term social, health, and other benefits from being highly active as a child.

Apply this understanding of the brain/body connection to your assessment and programming of young athletes. Additionally, make sure the parents, teachers, and other influencers in your community understand that your role as a youth strength and conditioning coach extends well beyond creating star athletes.

Take pride in your role helping kids sweat, smile, and get smarter!

Reference List
Chaddock, L., Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., VanPatter, M., Voss, M. W., Pontifex, M. B., Kramer, A. F. (2010). Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic fitness in preadolescent children. Developmental neuroscience, 32(3), 249–256.
Christiansen, L., Beck, M. M., Bilenberg, N., Wienecke, J., Astrup, A., & Lundbye-Jensen, J. (2019). Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Potential Mechanisms and Evidence-based Recommendations. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(6), 841.
Colcombe, S. J., Kramer, A. F., Erickson, K. I., Scalf, P., McAuley, E., Cohen, N. J., Elavsky, S. (2004). Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101(9), 3316–3321.
Lees, C., & Hopkins, J. (2013). Effect of aerobic exercise on cognition, academic achievement, and psychosocial function in children: a systematic review of randomized control trials. Preventing chronic disease, 10, E174.
Ratey, J., & Hagerman, E. (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (First ed.). New York, New York: Little, Brown, and Company, Hachette Book Group.
Reyna L. Gordon, Carolyn M. Shivers, Eleizabeth A. Wieland, Sonja A. Kotz, Paul J. Yoder, J. Devin McAuley. Music rhythm discrimination explains individual differences in grammar skills in children. Developmental Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/desc.12230
Thomas, A. G., Dennis, A., Bandettini, P. A., & Johansen-Berg, H. (2012). The effects of aerobic activity on brain structure. Frontiers in psychology, 3, 86.
Tomporowski, P. D., Davis, C. L., Miller, P. H., & Naglieri, J. A. (2008). Exercise and Children’s Intelligence, Cognition, and Academic Achievement. Educational psychology review, 20(2), 111–131.


Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.


The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Foot & Ankle Strengthening for Athletes – Jordan Tingman

You may have heard that many injuries and long-term structural issues can arise from issues in the feet.  The feet and ankles are often neglected in training, but we should really be focusing a lot of our attention on the quality of movement coming from the feet. Structurally, the feet and ankle areas are comprised of many bones and ligaments, and if not able to move properly/efficiently, these structures may not function the way they should under stress, which can easily lead to injuries and compensations.

The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments.  There are also 7000 nerve endings in each foot that not only feel different sensations, but more importantly, help us balance, move, stabilize, and sequence movement strategies throughout our bodies.  The structure is intricate because the foot has to perform incredibly small and subtle movements in order to shift weight during complex movements, remain rigid yet supple, and respond to a wide variety of stimulation.

Literally every force we deliver or accept from the ground goes through the feet and ankles.  When we jump or run, we usually think of our quads and glutes creating large amounts of force to propel our bodies.  While this is true, all of those forces ultimately have to go through the foot.  So, neglecting this area would be a major oversight.

Many coaches are intimidated by the complexity of the foot and ankle.  Doctors and therapists spend years to learn the intricacies of this area, so how could we possibly know everything about the foot and ankle?

We don’t have to.

While it would be very beneficial to have a deeper understanding of the foot/ankle, the truth is, incorporating any sort of foot and ankle prep into a program will offer benefits to the athlete. You can incorporate simple exercises into a dynamic warm-up before a practice/training session or you can incorporate them throughout a workout!

I’m not suggesting you are intentionally ignorant of the subject, but it’s not necessary to get overwhelmed and decide to do nothing at all.  Instead, gather as much information as you can, and choose some simple exercises that do no hard and can help keep your athletes healthy and functioning properly.  If these exercises cause pain or reveal more complicated issues, definitely refer them to a specialist.

Here are some simple exercises that you can add to the beginning of your workout:

Foot/Ankle Video

When considering all the different planes that the ankle works in, it is nearly impossible to train every single movement or range of motion, but we should try to provide as much variety as possible in order to strengthen them!

Banded Ankle Work

Always consider how you’ll fit these exercises into a complete program.  You probably won’t have time to perform every exercise shown, but don’t let that stop you from including at least one thing aimed at training this important area.


Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.



The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: Handling Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries

Dear Parent of a Young Athlete,


Your kid got hurt playing sports.  It happens. Now, what should you do about it?

While it’s true that sports injuries are common, there are two things I’d like you to consider:

  1. How did it happen?  
  2. How is it being handled?

Some sports injuries are pretty much unavoidable if your kid is playing sports.  Kids will fall, run into each other, or have a fluke accident occur. You take certain risks in sports, and this is one of them.  If an injury occurs that you feel was simply part of the game, just move on to the second question and handle it in the best way possible.  

Other sports injuries occur from overtraining, improper training/practice, or compensations that your child develops in order to keep up with the demands of the sport.  These injuries need to be investigated differently.

If your child is suffering from repeated injuries that don’t seem like “accidents” or “part-of-the-game” things, there’s probably something else going on that needs to be addressed.  It could seem like something relatively straightforward like an overuse injury, but simply resting until it feels better, then going right back to the same routine is a set up for re-injury.  The volume of training might just be too high, but it could also be that your child’s mechanics (running, throwing, kicking, etc.) aren’t correct, which can cause all sorts of problems.  

In these cases, mechanics should be addressed by a professional, or you run the risk of these injuries plaguing a child for a long time.  

Sometimes, kids simply aren’t ready for the mechanics or demands of a sport.  For example, most kids under 11 simply don’t have the ability to adequately control the pelvis during rapid spinal rotation.  This is just part of the maturation process, and it kind of seems like a built-in governor, that keeps growing bodies from performing crazy athletic feats too early.  Unfortunately, when kids are taught how to throw or kick really hard at a young age, they can develop issues at the shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip stemming from the inability to perform these actions efficiently. Because they can’t control that spinal/hip rotation, they figure out other ways to compensate in order to throw or kick really hard, and other areas of the body take the brunt of these forces.  

That’s why we see things like 12-year-olds getting Tommy John surgery or 13-year-old soccer players with hip dysplasia.  These things are typically a result of athletes being pushed too hard, too early. They “appear” to be able to do things that they simply shouldn’t be doing yet, like throwing 80 MPH at 12 years old.  

There can be all sorts of reasons for overuse sports injuries.  Just be sure to look into what may have caused the injury, and try to address it before it happens again.  

You should also know that “different” injuries are often “related.”  What I mean is that it’s possible for a kid to start out with hip pain.  He rests, it gets better, and he goes back to playing. A few weeks later, he has back pain.  He rests, it gets better, he goes back. A few weeks later, he rolls his ankle. Something is going on here.  It appears as though the injuries are unrelated, but there’s a good chance they are. A good therapist, doctor, or experienced strength coach may be able to figure out what’s happening through a comprehensive evaluation, and it’s important to address it before it becomes worse.

Sometimes, you’ll have to talk to a coach about what’s going on with your child.  A coach who says it’s “my way or the highway” may not be a great partner when it comes to your child’s health.  Now you’re dealing with politics, and you might have to tip-toe around things to ensure you’re prioritizing your child’s well-being.  Most coaches know sports and care about kids, but very few are also medical professionals who know exactly how to handle injuries. It’s very important to work with coaches when possible and defer to their judgment on certain things.  It’s also important to recognize when your child is in a dangerous situation, and you may have to step in to do what’s best for your child. This can get really tricky (and should probably be a separate letter), so let’s just hope your coach cares about your child’s well-being.  

The second part of this injury equation is how the injuries are handled.  Far too often, I see parents take kids to their pediatrician for orthopedic issues that the pediatrician simply isn’t trained to treat.  This is NOT the pediatrician’s fault. They are amazing doctors, but their training probably wasn’t in orthopedic injuries. It’s the same reason you wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for a heart issue.  Or you wouldn’t ask a basketball coach to correct your golf swing.

Find the expert for the specific issue you’re dealing with.

How do you find the right person?  It’s important that you take charge of these situations by doing some research.  Find someone in your area that knows a lot of other health care professionals, and ask for some guidance.  Physical therapists and athletic trainers often know the experts in their area, so they are a great resource.  Some strength coaches and primary care physicians are also great resources.  

Just explain what the issue is, and ask if they know who the experts are.  You can walk into any physical therapy clinic to ask questions like this, and they should be happy to help if they can.  You can also call or stop into a doctor’s office. You might not see the doctor, but they’ll get a message and someone will offer help.  

Don’t be scared to ask questions and find the right person.  Too many people say things to me like “my neighbor is a ______, so I go to him/her for every issue.”  Well, MY neighbor is an outstanding ER doc, but I didn’t go to him for my thumb surgery. Find the right person.  

There are so many different injuries associated with sports, and they are definitely going to happen.  When they do, just make sure you are covering all of your bases by looking into why the injury occurred and finding the right professional to address it. 

I hope this helps keep your kids safe.



Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Director of the Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.


To learn more from Jim, check out the IYCA Certified Speed & Agility Specialist course.  The CSAS is the most comprehensive and scientifically sound speed certification in the athletic development profession.  It truly prepares you to teach and develop speed.  Click on the image below to learn more.

speed & agility certification

Letter to Parents: From Jim Kielbaso – Let Them Struggle

Dear Parents of Young Athletes,

One of the most important skills your child can learn from sports and training is how to struggle with something and eventually overcome it. 

Unfortunately, it can be pretty difficult for us to watch our kids struggle, and our natural instinct is to help them so they don’t have to experience that pain.  Trust me, I have a hard time with this as a dad, too, so I understand. It’s hard to watch my kids struggle and fail because it breaks my heart. But, kids grow exponentially faster, and become more resilient, when they learn how to work hard and struggle for something they want.  

I recently heard Olympic figure skating champion Mark Hammill talk about the years leading up to his massive success.  He said that all anyone ever wants to talk about are his successes, but he talked about how important it was for him to lose and fail over and over again before that.  He talks about how it developed tenacity and a thirst for success because he hated the feeling of losing. The struggles are what turned him into a champion.

If we rush in to rescue our kids from every obstacle in their way, they’ll never learn how to do it for themselves, and they may never develop the grit it takes to succeed in any endeavor.  We all know that life is full of obstacles, so we better help them learn how to overcome them.  

As hard as it is to watch your child fail, teach them how to turn setbacks into comebacks.  Michael Jordan often talks about how impactful it was for him to get cut from his high school basketball team.  That year, he probably grew more than any other year of his life because he wanted to prove his coaches wrong. That setback helped him develop a mindset, attitude and work ethic that propelled him on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Had he made that team, it’s possible that he would have never developed that spirit, and we might not even be talking about him.

There is a saying in sports that pretty much sums it all up – “skills from struggles.”  

Growth comes when people are challenged just above their skill level.  This forces us to learn something new, try a little harder, and understand things more thoroughly because we have to keep up with those around us who can already perform the task we’re struggling with.  Of course, putting a child in a situation where they are completely over their head can be demoralizing, so it’s important to give kids appropriate challenges so they can feel a sense of accomplishment as they improve.  

Kids who achieve early successes without having to work hard will often get passed up later in life as others learn how to work hard and overcome setbacks.  Early achievers need larger challenges than others at a young age to keep them constantly improving rather than being satisfied with simply being better than kids on their team.  

I’ve seen this happen many, many times in my career, and I even see it in very talented high school athletes who struggle mightily in college because they have never had to work extremely hard to keep up. They get very discouraged, their confidence drops, and they often end up giving up on the sport they were so good at when they were young.  

I also see the parents of these kids get very frustrated and wonder what happened to their super-talented child.  

The same principle applies to other areas of our lives such as academics, work, and social situations.  We don’t necessarily need to “encourage” mistakes, but we often learn much more from difficult situations than when things are easy.  Let your kids learn that they may fail a test if they don’t study. Let them have friends get angry if they aren’t good friends. Let them get fired from a job for not working hard.  Let them sit on the bench when they don’t practice hard. Let them experience painful feelings.

And, don’t rush to rescue them from these difficult situations.  You don’t have to pile on and ridicule them for making mistakes, but try to look at these struggles as opportunities for your kids to learn valuable skills.  Just try to balance being “there for them” with letting them struggle.  

So, while it may tear your heart out to watch your child struggle, it’s probably exactly what they need once in a while to help them learn how to dig down and figure out how to get better.  This is probably going to hurt you more than them, so good luck with this….and wish me luck too.  



Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Director of the Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.


To learn more from Jim, check out the IYCA Certified Speed & Agility Specialist course.  The CSAS is the most comprehensive and scientifically sound speed certification in the athletic development profession.  It truly prepares you to teach and develop speed.  Click on the image below to learn more.

speed & agility certification

Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: Balancing Skills & Athleticism

Dear Parents of Young Athletes,

I get it.  You want your kid to be better at sports.  And, taking a lesson this week (hitting, shooting, dribbling, etc.) from a sports skills coach will produce a quick results so your child will experience success this weekend. 

I have three boys who play sports, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from.  We all want our kids to succeed. 

It makes logical sense: work on a skill + use it in a game = success & happy kids.

It seems easy, and it’s not necessarily wrong.  It’s just not a complete equation.  

Make no doubt, working on skills will help.  A good coach will help a soccer player pass, trap, and dribble better.  A good hitting coach will refine your swing and help you get more hits. And, a good volleyball coach will help you serve, bump, and hit better.  

It will definitely help…to a certain extent.

Just remember that improving sports skills does not necessarily mean that their overall athleticism is improving.  These two things are very intertwined, but also very different.

Just so we’re on the same page, “athleticism” refers to things like body control, speed, coordination, balance, quickness, kinesthetic awareness, and the way a person moves. 

Sports skills are all about technical expertise at skills like dribbling, shooting, hitting, etc.  Being more athletic makes it much easier to learn and master sports skills, but being good at sports skills does not necessarily make an athlete more “athletic.”

The traits involved in athleticism lay the foundation for most sports and are typically developed before age 14. They can certainly be improved well beyond age 14, but it becomes much more difficult to change the way an athlete moves as they get older because motor patterns (the way our nervous system organizes firing patterns to create and control movement) are more ingrained at this point.   A young person’s nervous system has much more “plasticity” which is essentially the ability to change, adapt, and learn new skills. This is also why it’s usually easier for young kids to learn a new language.

A highly athletic, low-skilled soccer player can easily get into position to make a play, but may not be able to take full advantage of the opportunity because of the low technical skills.  On the other hand, a highly-skilled, low-athleticism player can control the ball, but won’t be able to get into position where their skills can best be utilized.  

Athletes who have both traits have a very high ceiling.  

Both traits can be improved, but it is much harder to develop athleticism later in life than it is for a good athlete to improve skills.  In fact, many world-class athletes didn’t focus on their “main sport” until after age 14, so there is plenty of evidence showing that “good overall athletes” can develop great skills later (there are certainly exceptions to this, but I’m not trying to cover every aspect of every sport in this short letter).  While good athletes can pick up new skills later, the opposite is not true.  A young, highly skilled, low-athleticism athlete will often get passed up when highly athletic kids start to practice their skills.

Getting passed up is frustrating for everyone, and is often the reason kids stop playing or enjoying sports.  It’s the result of short-term development, and it’s much more difficult to address later in the developmental process.  That’s why it’s so important to spend time on these things with young athletes.

So, I’m not telling you to stop practicing your sport.  Not even close. There is no doubt that practice will pay off.

Just don’t forget to work on overall athleticism, especially at a young age when it’s much easier to develop.  It’s actually pretty easy to insert athletic development activities into sports practices, but coaches have to understand and appreciate the concepts of athletic development rather than focusing exclusively on sports skills.  

The hard part for parents to understand is that you won’t necessarily see the benefits immediately.  Developing coordination and athleticism takes a long time and won’t help your kid make the last second shot this weekend.  Developing an athlete is a long-term proposition that requires patience and balance. Just make sure your child is working on things like speed, balance, and coordination just as much as sports skills at a young age so it’s easier for them to refine their skills later.  



P.S. If you are a parent who likes to further their education, you can learn more about how to Train athletes from Start to Finish in this free resource

Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Director of the Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.


Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: What Did They Do When They Were Young?

Dear parents of young athletes,

I know you want your child to be the best, so I can understand why you like to watch training videos of world-class athletes so you can have him/her do what they’re doing.  You’re probably assuming that whatever the best athletes are doing is what your child should be doing, so they will end up like them.

I get it.  And, I know you just want to give your child the best, so they can be their best.     

Unfortunately, it seems like you’re missing one key component here – your child isn’t a world-class athlete yet, so he/she has different needs.  

World class athletes train a certain way because they have built a solid foundation of movement, strength, mobility, work capacity, power, skill, etc.  Their needs are more about refinement than development, so their training is very different than what they did when they were younger and trying to get to where they are today.  

Instead of looking at what the pros are doing NOW, look at what they did when they were your kid’s age.  This will give you insight into what helped them develop the foundation of athleticism they have today.  

Most world-class athletes participated in many sports/activities when they were young.  They typically engaged in more hours of various activities than less successful athletes, but they almost always did it because they loved it.  Athletes who achieve high levels of success have an internal drive at a young age to play sports. They wanted to go to the back yard or playground and practice because that’s what they loved doing. 

You can also look at professional sports clubs in other parts of the world where they start developing athletes at a young age.  In addition to playing plenty of soccer with amazing coaches, European soccer clubs have young kids doing all sorts of different activities like gymnastics, calisthenics, etc. that essentially act as their “second sport.”  Those coaches have seen the process play out through many years of coaching, and they don’t want their young athletes doing the same movements over and over again because it leads to injuries and a lack of overall athletic development. 

They don’t do these same things with their elite players because they understand that athletes at different ages/levels need different things.  The older athletes are lifting weights, doing structured speed work, and in the case of their elite professionals, fine-tuning their bodies to ensure longevity and optimal performance.  Training changes at each level because the needs are different. 

So, while it’s really interesting to watch videos of Stef Curry, Usain Bolt, Mike Trout, and Cristiano Ronaldo training, try to remember that they have very different needs than your child.  What you see them doing now is not what they did when they were your child’s age, so it would be inappropriate for you to copy their training programs.  

Instead, focus on fundamental motor skills, give them physical activities outside of their main sport, keep sports fun, and teach them to value the slow process of constant improvement.  Have them play other sports, and let them explore the full capacity of their bodies.  While you might not see the payoff this weekend, this is the path that most world-class athletes took, so have patience, and enjoy the experience of watching your young athlete slowly develop.   



Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and owner of Impact Sports Performance in Michigan.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.


Fun Games for Athletes – Erica Suter

Using fun games for athletes is a big part of the IYCA training philosophy, but many coaches simply don’t have enough games or fresh ideas in their repertoire to keep things interesting.fun games for athletes

“Left foot here!”
“Be aggressive!”

Ever watched a youth sports practice and heard the coach instruct so much that it sounded like an ongoing commentary?

Nowadays, over-coaching runs rampant and is killing the fun, creative, and competitive nature of our youth. As much as coaches think they have every ounce of control over their players and are making them better from the flood of cues, they aren’t.

And chances are, if you’ve run an agility session, set up a swarm of zig-zag cones, and barked at kids on how to cut faster, their response was deflated and their movements were inefficient. Or maybe you’ve run a conditioning session, set up full-field suicides, or made them jog the good-old-lap around the field. Did you seem them run with excitement and full speed? My guess is ‘no.’

fun games for young athletesOn the other hand, if you had a session with fun games for athletes, like a game of tag, set up no limitations, and gave minimal coaching cues, their response was amped-up and their agility was faster than you could say undulating periodization. Not only that, but they were elated in their response and had unlimited energy to run around.

Less instruction. Less cues. Less screaming. Less rules. Less limitations.

Aiming to control every move, turn, and action of our youth athletes becomes counter-productive to building their creativity, improving their problem solving, and developing their basic motor skills in an exploratory fashion.

To that end, kids are so malleable – from their bodies to their brains – they crave novelty and the idea of simply “figuring it out.”

Allowing kids to play and enjoy a game at practice fills their souls with exuberance and life, while helping them improve balance, coordination, stability, agility, strength, conditioning and so much more.

Here are several ways to train various athletic skills using fun games for athletes:

1. Chase Races 

Let’s talk about training maximal speed.  Yes, let’s.

What kills me about self-proclaimed youth speed trainers, is they are getting technical just to get technical.

They have kids line up in a sprinter’s start, or perform A skips, or tap their feet through a ladder, or perform a monotony of wall acceleration drills. For the full hour session!

To avoid the mundane nature of drill sergeant sessions, I have an idea: to get kids faster, how about having them race?

Because no amount of barking “pump your arms!” or “drive your knees!” will suffice. What’s beautiful is, when you have them face an opponent, you bet their form cleans up and they’re going as hard as they can.

Race. I urge you.

I’d go as far as to say to vary the starts, or the stimuli that initiates the drill, whether this is auditory or visual or even touch.

Another nice tip is to give the leader a start from a disadvantage so they have to hustle to not get chased down, and the “chaser” has to work extra hard to catch them. This also eliminates boredom, and adds some spontaneity.

And as far as efficient agility, here is an amazingly fun game for athletes that improves shin angles, center of gravity, and maximal effort:

2. Mirror Drills
Competing to keep up with a teammate in the form of a mirror drill is one of the best ways to elicit maximum effort, while  tapping into the visual senses.  Here are a few examples of some of my favorite mirror drills:

3. Non-Primary Sport Games

When was the last time you had your soccer team play handball? Or your basketball team try dodgeball? Or your wrestling team play Capture the Flag? Or your softball team arm wrestle? It bodes well to venture away from the primary sport to explore athleticism further, and expose kids to a diverse menu of movement.

One of my favorites is 1v1 dodgeball. Though not my athletes’ primary sport of soccer, there is a myriad of skills carryover going on here: reactive ability, spatial awareness, upper body power, stability, and agility.

There’s also something magical about being put in an uncomfortable situation and being forced to adapt.  When using fun games for athletes, they don’t always need to be “sport specific” because you’re developing all-around athleticism and giving them a chance to utilize the skills you’ve trained in a way that’s different than normal.

4. Strength Competitions

This much I know: you can’t go wrong with getting strong.  Having competitions with the various strength and power movements, such as Pull Ups, Planks,  Jumps, Tosses, is a great way to create culture and get kids excited about training.

Here are a few competitions to try:

Broad Jump Competition for Lower Body Power – The only rule for this one is that players must stick their landing in order for their best measurement to count. What I’ve found is, instead of having them perform reps of jumps on their own, this competition actually improved their form.

Long Toss Competition for Upper, Core, and Hip Power:

Pull-Up Max Hold Competition for Upper Body and Core Strength:

Chaos Bear Hugs Competition for Core Stability and Wide Base of Support:

And this is just the beginning.

The best part about being a youth coach is that you have the freedom to be as creative as you like, to have fun with your drills, and to experiment with what makes kids compete, while smiling and laughing at the same time. You will find that you are just as pumped-up as the kids when executing fun drills in your sessions.

I hope these fun games for athletes help you to serve your players better, and inspire you to build off of the basic movement skills while you add your own sprinkle of fun and play.

Erica Suter is a soccer performance coach at JDyer Strength and Conditioning in Baltimore, Maryland. She works with youth athletes across the state of Maryland in the areas of strength, conditioning, agility, and technical soccer training. Besides coaching, she is a passionate writer, and writes on youth fitness as well as soccer performance training on her blog www.ericasuter.com. She also is the creator of the Total Youth Soccer Fitness Program, which is a comprehensive guide for coaches and parents on how to train youth soccer players both safely and effectively. Her mission is to inspire a love for movement and play in kids, and motivate them to stay active for a lifetime.


The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

11 Ways to Manage Challenging Parents and Coaches – Brett Klika

When youth strength coaches discuss their barriers to success with young athletes, dealing with difficult parents and coaches is often high on the list.

In nearly 20 years as a youth strength and conditioning coach, I’ve had thousands of positive experiences with parents and coaches. It’s amazing to work as a team to create a 360-degree support system that functions to amplify a young athlete’s success in sports and life.

I’ve also had experiences that left me questioning if I wanted to remain in this profession. Overbearing parents, undermining coaches, and a dysfunctional interaction of all of the above can derail the unique opportunity we have to positively impact a child’s life.

Over the years, I’ve developed some powerful strategies to solidify and improve overall cohesiveness with parents and coaches. It’s important to realize that for the most part, everyone involved with the development of a young athlete is acting on what they believe to be the best for their child. Engaging in a constant battle of “who is right” always ends poorly.

A far more effective approach is to establish clear communication and expectations, so everyone involved understands the intended outcome and their values with the process are aligned. It’s also important to evaluate the role our own ego plays in making or breaking a relationship.

Below are 11 different strategies that have proven successful for me in my career to create a functional, positive relationship between myself, parents, and coaches.

1. During the initial consultation, focus the questions and conversation towards the athlete. At times, this may require respectfully and artfully “cutting off” the parent if they try to answer a question directed towards the athlete.

Even though this appears to be dismissing the parent, I have received repeated feedback that this made the parent feel at ease because they knew I was focused on the needs of their child. It also helps establish an initial dynamic without being confrontational.

2. When talking to parents and coaches, prioritize a “how can we help you?” tone as opposed to “this is what we do with athletes” tone. Ask questions like “What do you value in a coach?” “What do you see as the ultimate outcome of your child playing sports?” This not only provides valuable insight, it helps parents and coaches feel heard vs. spoken to. This makes them more confident that you have their best interests in mind.


3. Listen to the language that parents, coaches, and athletes use when describing what they need/expect from a program. This is the language they understand, even if the semantics are off a bit. Whenever possible, use their language when sharing the details of your program. Don’t’ start a battle of egos by coming off condescending. There will be plenty of time for semantics while training.

4. Develop an understanding of where their points of concern may be with your program before it begins. You may use play and games frequently. You may take time to build a progression. You may focus on general aspects of conditioning vs. sport specific training (as you should). While these represent the best approach to training youth, the parent or coach’s lack of understanding of the process may cause reason for question.

Address these concerns out of the gait. “We use a lot of games to teach athletic skills because…” “You’ll see them doing a lot of things you may have seen in physical education classes. We do this because…” Addressing these at the onset of a program both verbally, and in a concise take-home document helps establish an expectation. They may decide that your approach isn’t in line with theirs, right or wrong. This saves headaches down the road!

5. Communicate frequently with coaches and parents. Most parents and coaches start to become overbearing when they don’t know or understand what you are doing with their child. Learn to keep things brief and specific. If parents are not present at training, take video whenever possible. When a child is training in a group, make sure to check in with each parent at least once per week. A quick face- to- face or text puts their mind at ease and lets them know you are on top of things.

6. When a parent brings an athlete to train, get their coach’s email address and let them know you are working with the athlete. Ask questions and frequently update the coach. When the coach is in the loop and respects your work, parents (even difficult ones) are more likely to as well.

7. If working with a coach and his/her team, make sure you have a line of communication to parents. This could be an occasional email, newsletter, or other way to create value for your services. When you have parents support, coaches often follow suit. After all, most coaches are ultimately hired and fired by some form of parent intervention.

8. Consider the “optics” of your training environment to coaches and parents. Even if you’re doing what would be considered the “right” stuff, if athletes aren’t engaged, challenged, and moving it doesn’t look good. You may be practicing great squat technique but if the training room is silent, your athletes are dead-faced, and there’s no sweat on their brow, it’s a hard sell to everyone involved.

Learn how to do the right stuff in a way that leaves young athletes sweating, smiling, and smarter.

9. Don’t undermine a coach, even if you don’t agree with their approach. There is no positive outcome in this scenario. If differences arise, immediately have a discussion. If a solution cannot be reached, part ways ASAP. From experience, I can promise this will actually save time, money, and headaches. There are a lot of kids that need and want your help.

10. The same as above goes for a coach that undermines your work. Have a discussion and make a decision ASAP. Don’t go to war. Attempting to bash one another’s reputation can have nuclear implications to everyone’s ability to help kids. Take the high road and prove them wrong in your community with action and reputation. Trust me, they will sink their own ship.

11. Check your ego. I’ve witnessed so many strength coach/sport coach/parent relationships go south due to semantic arguments and over-dogmatic convention. The same bad experiences we’ve had with parents and sport coaches, they have probably had with professionals like us.

Resist automatically dismissing parent and coach concerns about your program. This is hard to do. It’s true that some relationships just aren’t going to work, but it’s important to evaluate your role in increasing or decreasing the likelihood of this.

While all of the above will dramatically decrease the obstacles you face with parents and coaches, “toxic” individuals still exist. Make sure you’re not contributing to the sludge, cut them loose, and move on. These decisions can be difficult because we truly care about their kids and we may depend on the income.

From experience however, I can attest that the time and energy drain from these relationships create a drastically negative net result on impact and income. A single parent or coach can derail your ability, energy, and interest in helping kids.

When we communicate, listen, and check our own ego more often, we have a greater opportunity to help more kids become active and athletic for life.

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.

If you want to be better at coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.


Empathy in Coaching – Jim Kielbaso

Many coaches pride themselves on having high expectations and holding athletes to them. Setting standards and holding athletes accountable is a great way to raise their levels of performance and maturity. But, as the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) grows in the coaching world, we’re finding it more and more important to understand what’s underneath the way athletes act rather than always taking the “my way or the highway” approach.  While a balanced approach is optimal for most situations, it’s important to understand how EQ can positively contribute to many coaching situations.  

In Daniel Goleman’s book Working With Emotional Intelligence, he determined that there are five fundamental features of EQ, each with their own benefits:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Empathy
  4. Motivation
  5. Social skills

While all of these are important, empathy may be the most difficult for coaches to utilize. To be empathetic means you are able to identify and understand others’ emotions i.e. imagining yourself in someone else’s position.  It does not mean you have to take on their feelings or change your expectations.  

Coaches often have a difficult time with this because we are focused on processes, strategies, solutions, and outcomes. Anything that might get in the way of progress is to be demolished so the goal can be accomplished. Having empathy seems like it’s going to slow everything down which often makes coaches feel like they’re lowering their standards. That’s a misapplication of empathy, and usually suggests a lack of understanding.

Let’s take a look at the benefits Goleman laid out and some ways he suggests for developing empathy (these have been altered slightly for coaches):

Benefits of empathy:

  • Provides you with an understanding of how an individual feels and why they behave in a certain way. As a result, your compassion and your ability to help someone increases because you respond genuinely to concerns.
  • Especially helpful when delivering constructive feedback.
  • Being empathetic shows your team that you care. For example, if a coach reacts angrily after finding out that an athlete has been arriving late because a family member is unwell, the team is likely to react negatively towards the coach. It would be more favorable for the coach to be understanding and agree on a plan of action with the athlete.
  • Athletes will respect you more and subsequently, performance, unity, and cohesiveness will improve.

How to develop empathy:

  • Imagine yourself in someone else’s position. Even if you have not experienced a similar situation, remember a situation where you have felt the same emotion an athlete is experiencing.
  • Practice listening without interrupting. This can be very difficult when you are angry, so self-control must be practiced.
  • Observe the athlete and try to gauge how they’re feeling.
  • Never ignore an athlete’s emotions, for example, if an athlete looks upset don’t disregard this – address it.
  • Try to understand first, rather than form a judgment immediately. For example, you may initially feel annoyed by an athlete who seems cold or disinterested. However, after discovering they suffer from social anxiety you may feel more sympathetic, which can help you communicate more effectively with that person.
  • To communicate your empathy, keep your body language open and regulate your voice to show your sincerity. This does not mean you take on the feelings; you simply understand them.

Because empathy seems “soft” to many coaches, it can feel like you’re giving up a lot of control and lowering expectations. Coaches often (incorrectly) assume that they have to take on the burden of an athlete’s emotions. This is not the case at all.

Understanding feelings and taking them on are two very different things. Coaches should strive to understand, but you rarely want to take on the emotions of others. That’s not only unhealthy, it will cloud judgement and your ability to lead and make decisions.

While you’re understanding one athlete, you also have to be aware that the rest of the group still needs you, so you have to learn how to address emotions without disrupting everything else around you. Sometimes you’ll need to wait until there is a natural break in activity. Other times, you can pull an athlete aside while the others are completing a task that doesn’t require as much direct supervision.

Coaches also make the incorrect assumption that they have to fix everyone’s problems if they listen to them. Again, this is not the case. Understanding emotions does not mean you are responsible for fixing whatever created them. This can be difficult because coaches love to solve problems, but that is not usually recommended.  In fact, it is often appropriate to explain to an athlete that you are not there to “solve” their problem.  Instead, you may be able to adjust your approach based on the knowledge you have about what they are dealing with.  

Having empathy may be most important with younger athletes who have yet to experience true “ignition.”  Ignition is essentially a potent experience that causes a person to fall in love with their passion.  For athletes, that can be experiencing success, having fun, or meeting someone impactful.  Daniel Coyle wrote about ignition in his book The Talent Code, and wrote an excellent essay called Rules of Ignition that is a highly recommended quick-read if you’re not familiar with the concept.  

Once a child falls in love with a sport, he/she will go to great lengths to participate and improve their skills.  This is what drove Wayne Gretzky to practice shooting hour after hour or Magic Johnson to dribble and play from sun-up to sun-down.  Unfortunately, most young athletes never experience this.  Without a passion for a sport, it makes it very difficult for kids to fully enjoy practicing and makes it nearly impossible for them to spend the energy necessary to achieve great success.  

When we recognize that an athlete has not experienced this kind of ignition, we may be able to take a slightly different approach than we would if the athlete was 100% bought-in.  Because we know how important passion is to athletic success, we may even try to be the catalyst that creates that passion.  Simply knowing that an 11 year old athlete had a bad experience with a sport may be enough for us to realize how important it is to create an exceptional experience in order to get the “train back on the tracks.”  A properly timed word of encouragement, an honest compliment, or a little extra time spent 

On the other hand, knowing that a 15 year old athlete is fully engaged and motivated may prompt us to turn up the intensity and raise the demands in order to accelerate progress. 

Other times, a good coach can use EQ to actually motivate an athlete.  By putting yourself in the athlete’s shoes, you’ll have a better understanding of what might motivate them.  You’ll know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.  Rather than using generic motivational statements, you’ll be able to personalize the message because you’ll see each athlete as more than a science experiment. 

Seeing the whole person through EQ allows a coach to use a much wider range of coaching, teaching, and motivational tools.  It will help strengthen relationships and open up more opportunities to make a positive impact.  Taking the time to develop empathy and EQ can pay off in ways that other coaches will never experience, and should be seen as being just as important as technical skills.  Practice the tips above, and over time, you’ll notice positive changes in both yourself and your athletes.  

How Physical Activity Enhances Brain Power – Erica Suter

If you’re a sport parent or coach, chances are, you enroll your kids in strength and conditioning programs so they become stronger, faster, and more resilient.

Of course, you want kids to perform at their best physically, whether that is by scoring goals, blowing by defenders, shooting three pointers, outrunning opponents, bodying off defenders, or making the audience “ooh” and “ahh” with sharp agility jukes. Expounding further, you want your kids safeguarded from injury and able to enjoy their sport, instead of being sidelined.

While performance and injury prevention are the backbone to youth strength and conditioning programs, I’d argue mental development is just as important.

Most of us have heard that physical activity improves cognitive function, but what exactly is going on at a neural level? How exactly does movement enhance memory, learning, and creativity? How can physical activity maintain or enhance brain function for a lifetime?

Without going into too much of a neuroscience discussion, here’s what you need to know: the brain establishes neural networks based on our experiences, from learning to roll over as a baby, to building the core strength to lift our heads up, to walking on different surfaces, to connecting the two hemispheres of the brain to perform sport-specific movements.

Movement, then, is the impetus for the expansion of new neural pathways in our nervous systems. Looking back to our elementary school days, we were able to learn skills in school because of the integrative dance of the muscles and brain.

When you learned cursive, your eyes moved to look at the chalkboard to see the letters on the board. Then, your brain sent a message to your hand to write what you saw on the paper.

Or how about learning a musical instrument? Your eyes followed the notes on the page, and the dance of your fingers and flow of your breath brought music out of your instrument.
Movement is a miracle. A gift. And something we should not take for granted. Movement leads to tremendous skills and rebuilds the plasticity of the brain for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, kids are being pulled away from magic of movement. Schools are cutting recess, video games are on the rise, phone and TV distractions are endless, strength and conditioning programs are not prioritized by sports clubs, physical education teachers are being laid off, and street pick-up games are waning. Because of all this, kids are becoming sedentary drones of society whose brains remain stagnant, close-minded, and distracted.

It’s sad because as we know that the brain is capable of restoring itself and rebuilding new pathways so long as we keep moving and challenging it with our movement.

Alas, to provide hope, there are several solutions to get the most out of your kids’ fitness and boost their brain power.

Let’s dive in:

1. Give them movement autonomy.

More often than not, physical activity for kids nowadays is under an organized setting. While some structure is needed for kids learn, I’d argue that free play is just as beneficial.

This doesn’t mean you should let kids run around with absolutely no guidance, but it’s totally okay to sprinkle in activities that give them autonomy. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.

As an example, for my middle school soccer players (ages 11-13), I will teach them a skill, then design a fun game around it where they have to problem solve on their own. My favorite game is “Soccer Break Dancing.” I give my kids a diverse menu of flashy soccer skills, then I tell them to get a partner and create their own dance together. Eventually, we all get in a circle and have a “dance-off.”

Not only is this activity one that inspires creativity, but it also allows them to create on their own and tap into the right side of their brains.  Find more conditioning games here.

2. Do cross-body movements daily.

Speaking of brain hemispheres, it is important for kids to activate both the left and right sides of their brains. The integration of the hemispheres allows humans to be optimally proficient in every life activity. Many people will argue, “oh, well they are a creative. They are just right-brained.” While some people may tap into one side an itty bit more, the left side is needed to analyze, sequence, and plan to jump-start the the creative process.

To give another soccer example, Messi is a “creative” player, but he needs the foot coordination and technique (left brain) in order to spontaneously (right brain) execute his skills. This is just one example of optimal interplay of both hemispheres.

With that said, research shows that cross-body movements maximize the functioning of both hemispheres. These movements are special because they cross the mid-line of the body, and allow the muscles of each side to work in concert together. Here are a few examples of cross-body movements you can perform daily to keep building neural pathways (adults included):

Cross Crawl

Crawling Coupling

3. Make fitness fun.

In order to inspire kids to be active in the digital age, fitness must be fun. The less of an obligation and chore it is, the more they develop a passion for movement and play.

Whether you are a parent, sports coach, or strength coach, there has to be a nice balance of structure and free play. However, for kids under age 8, free play is your best bet. Want them to get stronger? Take them to climb some trees. Want them to become more conditioned? Play tag. Want them to become agile, balanced, and aware? Take them to the playground.

Taking the conversation back to the “Break Dance” competitions I use for my athletes to hone in on autonomy, this is also a drill that allows kids to have fun and be carefree to come up with their own flow of movements:

Oddly enough, yes, coaches are there to instruct, but at the same time, we are also there to set up our kids’ environment so that it elicits certain physical results. Set things up properly, and let the drill do the work.  Over-coaching might look good from the outside (especially to over-bearing parents), but it doesn’t produce great results.  Kids need to learn and explore on their own.

Give these pointers a try and I promise the results will be nothing short of amazing. Your kids will not only have increased energy and focus, but also, increased confidence and creativity. And last I looked, these are things we want kids to have even outside of sports. After all, their sport careers will be over one day, and all they will have left is their brain power.

To that end, their mental development extends far, far beyond their athletic endeavors. It permeates into friendships, relationships, academics, career achievements, and creative pursuits.

Erica Suter is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and soccer performance coach at JDyer Strength and Conditioning in Baltimore, Maryland. She works with youth athletes across the state of Maryland in the areas of strength, conditioning, agility, and technical soccer training. Besides coaching, she is a passionate writer, and writes on youth fitness as well as soccer performance training on her blog www.ericasuter.com. She also is the creator of the Total Youth Soccer Fitness Program, which is a comprehensive guide for coaches and parents on how to train youth soccer players both safely and effectively. Her mission is to inspire a love for movement and play in kids, and motivate them to stay active for a lifetime.

Conditioning Games for Young Athletes – Brett Klika

Working with children at any age is an art as well as a science. As coaches, we aim to push our young athletes out of their comfort zone so they can grow physically and mentally within their sport and beyond. Science continues to provide methods by which we can do this effectively. However, we must also find ways make the process enjoyable and engaging for the kids involved.

Many of us remember the “lines, laps, and lectures” that marred our experience with youth sports. We also remember that special coach or training environment that brought out the best in us. This situation was usually created by coaches who understood the inner workings of children in the development process. They acknowledged the role of pushing our limits, but also created an environment that was positive and engaging.  And yes, FUN!

The “conditioning” aspect of training is probably the least popular amongst athletes at any age. However, it’s a necessary evil when it comes to physically and mentally preparing youngsters for competition.  Fortunately, conditioning does not have to be a Bear-Bryant-esque death march. By using gamification, creativity, and just plain old fun, it can be a tool to keep kids smiling while they sweat.

Consider combining the specific conditioning protocols you use for your individuals and teams with the more engaging, gamified versions below. Watch how the context of play brings out higher levels of effort and resilience, both indicators of high performance!

Letter Agility 

This activity is ideal for individuals and teams when space is limited.

  1. Spread athletes in the space, providing ample room around each to move.
  2. Call out a letter, and they have to re-create that letter on the ground by moving their body in the specific pathway as fast as possible.
  3. The letters should cover roughly a 6-foot area.
  4. Progress from letters to words and/or shapes.
  5. Provide time constraints.
  6. Have them face a partner and race.

Dirty and Clean 

This is a great activity for large spaces and teams.

  1. Randomly place cones throughout a large area. The larger the area, the greater the distance each athlete must cover to play the game.
  2. Assign one team to be the “dirty” team, the other the “clean” team.
  3. Prior to beginning, make sure to have a count of how many cones are being used.
  4. On the whistle, the “dirty” team must disperse and continue to knock over as many cones as possible with their hands.
  5. The “clean” team must set the cones back up as fast as possible.
  6. Athletes must move throughout the space. Neither team can knock down or set up the same cone two times in a row.
  7. At the end of the time (20-30 seconds) whoever has the most cones either knocked over or standing is the winner.
  8. Repeat, switching roles.
  9. For added challenge, change the body parts that can be used to knock over cones.

Compass Calisthenics 

This simple concept is great for individuals and teams when space is limited.

  1. Create a list of 10 bodyweight exercises that can be done in place.
  2. Familiarize the athletes with the compass directions (East, West, North, South).
  3. Athletes perform each exercise for 30 seconds.
  4. During this time, the coach will frequently call out one of the compass directions and the athlete has to re-orient their body and movement to that direction. For example, “Push-ups EAST, NORTH, WEST”, etc.
  5. 10 Seconds of rest is provided between exercises.

Human Cone Drill (Jumping Jacks) 

This is great competitive activity for moderate to large spaces and teams.

  1. Split athletes into teams of 5.
  2. Set up cones for each team, separating each by roughly 10 yards.
  3. Have teams stand in line behind a cone, facing a corresponding cone roughly 30 yards away (distance can be shortened for different ages, and training spaces).
  4. Athletes stand in a single file line with arms outstretched onto the person’s shoulders in front of them.
  5. On the whistle, athletes begin doing jumping jacks.
  6. On a second whistle, the athlete in the back of the line must weave through their teammates while avoiding the jumping jack arms.
  7. Once a teammate has moved to the front of the line, they can call “go” and the next person in the back of the line weaves through.
  8. The goal is for a team to reach their distant cone before the other teams.
  9. When the coach blows a whistle during the race, the last person in line must stop and put their hands out in front of them.
  10. The entire line must re-form so all participants can place their hands on the shoulders in front of them.
  11. When all teams have accomplished this, the whistle is blown again and competition continues.

Partner Mirror Drill 

This is a conditioning activity for partners when space is limited, or when reaction speed is a goal.  

  1. Create partners.
  2. Partners decide who the “leader” and who the “follower” will be.
  3. On the whistle, the leader begins to perform activities of their own choosing, i.e. shuffling, jumping, calisthenics, etc.
  4. Instruct athletes to use a relatively small 6-8-foot area for movement.
  5. The follower must try to mirror exactly what the leader is doing in real time.
  6. On the coach’s whistle, the roles switch.
  7. Continue for 30 second intervals.
  8. Encourage creative, varied movement, i.e. dance moves, calisthenics-to-locomotion, etc.
  9. To increase difficulty, a movement cannot be repeated while someone is a leader.

All of the activities above function to challenge the metabolic system. However, by gamifying the experience, kids actually enjoy the process. The more the enjoyment, the greater the effort.

Integrate these fun and challenging conditioning activities into your youth programs and beyond. Never be afraid to create an environment where athletes smile while they sweat.    

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.



The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:


Concussion Awareness & Prevention for the Strength Professional – Joe Powell

Part 1 of 2 on concussion awareness and mitigation for the S&C Professional focuses on defining the injury and its primary root causes, as well as clearing up common misconceptions about the injury. The article focuses in on published research to define prevalence and rate of instance among popular sports. 

The term concussion has long been feared, yet largely misunderstood by both athletes and coaches alike. However, as of late, concussion awareness in athletics has been at an all-time high. Increases in clinical diagnoses of the injury as well as research devoted to the cause, effects, and preventative strategies have helped spearhead awareness and thus increased prevention attempts. High profile athletes have begun to step forward into the public eye to raise awareness on concussions and the subsequent consequences that can accompany the injury and, unfortunately, plague their everyday lives. Controversial debate has even taken place in professional sports among league officials and referees to change the rules of the sports where concussions occur at high rates. Sure, concussions have always occurred in the sports that we love, but only recently have they garnered the mass attention necessary to begin the prevention process at all levels. Like any other injury commonly sustained by athletes, it is our job as strength and conditioning professionals to help lead the movement on mitigation and make it a priority in our training.

The first step in creating a program to help our athletes minimize the occurrence of any injury is to better understand the nature of the injury and everything that accompanies it.

What is a concussion and how can it occur?

A concussion is the result of external force being applied upon the body wherein the result of the impact causes a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, resulting in a collision between the brain and the skull. Sustaining a concussion can result in severe cognitive, psychological and structural damage to an individual. Common symptoms of the injury include headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and even loss of consciousness. The injury may last days, weeks and in some cases even longer. The severity of the injury is dependent upon many factors. How it was caused, the force of the trauma that occurred, the amount of previous head injuries the individual has sustained, and even the time it took to report the injury to a licensed health care provider are just a sampling of factors that influence the severity of a concussion.

From Children’s Hospital Oakland

Head injuries such as concussions are most commonly thought to occur due to a direct blow to the head via another athlete. These are your big highlight reel hits in football or the massive check into the boards in hockey. This scenario is certainly one of the most common causes of concussion in sport, however it is far from the only one. The direct contact hits by another individual that result in a concussed athlete are easy to recognize because the signs and symptoms of a concussion are usually immediately on display. It has almost become the norm to expect an injury when a vicious hit is sustained during play. However, these types of concussions may partially explain why the injury is so misunderstood. When an athlete displays concussion symptoms to themselves or others, yet cannot trace the symptoms to an event where a large collision took place, they may not actually think they’ve suffered a concussion. This results in athletes failing to report their injury and thus do not get the treatment needed to be placed on a proper rehabilitation protocol.

Other common scenarios where concussions are sustained in athletics may not be as recognizable as the highlight reel hit or direct head contact. Yet these events are every bit as serious, even if though go unrecognized initially. These situations may include when an athlete suffers repeated low-level blows to the head, when an external object (not another human) hits an athlete in the cranial region, or when a player gets wrapped up and their head becomes susceptible to hitting the environment around them, even if at a low velocity. To put into perspective how common these injuries can occur, look no further than specific examples of routine plays that happen in almost any game or match. Instances may be when a soccer player attempts a header and strikes the ball with great force, when a baseball or softball strikes an athlete on the helmet, when a wrestler is taken down and cannot brace themselves before hitting the mat, or a lineman in football colliding against defenders for the duration of a game. The possibilities are numerous. The root cause of concussion can certainly differ, but the injury remains incredibly serious regardless of how it is sustained. Now that the injury and some of its causes are better understood, more effective strides can be made to minimize its prevalence.

Which athletes are at risk?

For many years the primary concern around concussions was based around contact sports, such as football, hockey, rugby and lacrosse, and the high-velocity collisions that accompany them. These contact sports are primarily male-dominated, which meant if you were female or played a non-contact sport you were likely safe from getting a concussion. Even youth athletes that played contact sports were not seen as a high risk of concussion since they could not typically generate the high-velocity impacts that are usually seen at the high school level and above. Those assumptions are actually quite false according to numerous studies on the topic and given the circumstances previously mentioned, it is now better understood that athletes of all ages, both male and female, across all sports, can be at risk of sustaining a concussion in their sport. The goal of bringing awareness to parents and athletes of the potential injuries in sport is not to scare them off and prevent them from playing the games they love, rather it’s to educate with the hopes of increased prevention methods, as well as understanding the proper steps to report and treat an injury if it does indeed occur.

Concussions and youth sports

Research has emerged within the last several years that paints a better picture on the prevalence of concussions in youth and high school sports. The CDC estimates that 20% of the roughly 1.7 million concussions that are reported each year are sports related, with the majority of those stemming from participants in youth and high school sports. It was reported that youth athletes who sustained a concussion from participation in contact/collision sports account for 3-8% of all sports-related injuries reported to the ER (Kelly, et al. 2001). Given the high number of participants in youth sports, those statistics are staggering. For years, concussion instances in youth sports was long an afterthought, yet studies show that young athletes are in fact likely more susceptible to concussions than adults. Concussions represent 8.9% of all high school athletic injuries compared to just 5.8% at the collegiate level (Karlin, 2011, Boden, et al. 2007). Possible explanations for higher percentages of concussion rates in youth athletics include youth and adolescent athletes possessing a larger head to body size ratio, they possess weaker neck muscles, and have an increased injury vulnerability due to the brain still developing (Sim et, al. 2008). To make matters worse, research suggests that children and adolescents take longer to recover than adults (Grady, 2010).

A systematic review and meta-analysis done by Pfister et. Al. examined the incidence of concussions in youth sports. 23 articles were accepted for systematic review (out of 698 considered for review). The accepted research focused on both male and female athletes under the age of 18 and included the following sports as part of the research: football, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, field hockey, track, taekwondo, volleyball, and cheerleading. The data compiled from the studies demonstrates concussion prevalence in terms of what the researchers refer to as an athletic exposure, or AE. The researchers define an athletic exposure as “one player participating in any game or practice, regardless of the amount of time spent playing and therefore at risk of sustaining an injury.” In this analysis, the data shows concussion prevalence out of 1000 athletic exposures across the 12 sports. The average incidence of an athlete sustaining a concussion across all identified sports was 0.23 per 1000 athletic exposures. The numbers range drastically dependent upon the sport. Rugby was the highest at 4.18, whereas volleyball the lowest at 0.03. The average incidence of an athlete receiving a concussion may seem low when thought of at 0.23/1000 AE, however when taken into consideration that as of 2011, 30-45 million children, and an additional 7 million high school students participated in athletics, that ratio (.023/1000) is actually incredibly startling. The following chart taken from the systematic review by Pfister et. Al shows the reviewed sports and their rates of concussions in order from highest to lowest, as well as the studies the data was taken from.  

The popularity of youth and high school sports are at all-time highs in today’s society. Parents, coaches and athletes alike are constantly vying for any edge in performance they can find. While the constant desire for improving sports and fitness related skills is great for the field of strength and conditioning, it’s imperative that athletes, parents, and coaches allocate time on injuries and preventative methods. Understand that injuries do occur, and will keep occurring, however the better understanding of how and why they occur, the better we can aim to mitigate them. This is especially important in regards to the serious injuries such as concussions where the long term effects are still unfortunately largely unknown.

In Part 2, we will examine some of the preventative measures and how strength & conditioning professionals can assist in protecting athletes from brain injuries.


Boden BO, Tacchetti RL, Cantu RC, et al. Catastrophic head injuries in high school and college football players. Am J Sports Med 2007

Grady M. Concussion in the adolescent athlete. Curr Probl Pediatric Health Care 2010;40:154–69.

Karlin AM. Concussion in the pediatric and adolescent population: “different population, different concerns”. PM R 2011;3(Suppl 2):S369–79.

Kelly KD, Lissel HL, Rowe BH, et al. Sport and recreation-related head injuries treated in the emergency department. Clin J Sport Med 2001

Pfister T, Pfister K, Hagel B, et al The incidence of concussion in youth sports: a systematic review and meta-analysis Br J Sports Med 2016;50:292-297.

Sim A, Terryberry-Spohr L, Wilson K. Prolonged recovery of memory functioning after mild traumatic brain injury in adolescent athletes. Neurosurgery 2008


Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Utah State University.  He formerly held a similar position at Central Michigan University where he also taught classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance.  Joe is a regular contributor to the IYCA Insiders program and has been a huge part of bringing the Behind the Science series to the IYCA.  He is also the author of the IYCA Guide to Manual Resistance Strength Training.  Get more of Joe’s contributions in the IYCA Insiders membership.