How To Group Your Young Athletes

So how do I categorize my young athletes?


This is a question I get asked quite frequently.


Several factors could be used when determining which
training group specific young athletes should be
placed into:



(A) Training Age

How long has the athlete been training?  How much
exposure do they have to the skills associated with
strength, speed or agility training?


(B) Biological Age

Some mid-teens have the body structures of men and women
in their early-20’s.  Conversely, many older teens have

the physical maturity of kids much younger than they are.


(C) Emotional Maturity

The ability of  young athletes to work well in group
situations, listen to instructions and gain skill
optimally is directly related to how emotionally and

mentally mature they are.



With all of these factors being present, I still only
use one general determinant when categorizing young


Chronological Age.


And there are several reasons why this makes most sense –


(1) Convenience.  Too many factors can bog down a process and
make it more complicated than it needs to be.


(2) Generalization.  Although exceptions exist, generally
speaking, most 9 or 14 year olds are experiencing the same

physiological patterns of development and require similar
types of training stimulus.


(3) Focus.  We tend to treat 10 year soccer stars and 10
year old overweight kids differently in training situations,
but it really doesn’t have to be that way.  The key is to

train the ORGANISM not the INDIVIDUAL.  While varying
progressions or regressions are important, the human body,
not the ability of the athlete or sport being trained for,
are what must dictate the terms of the conditioning.



That last point is very critical.


How can you have Young Athletes and athletic superstars and overweight kids
training in the same group?


Quite simple.


Every single exercise you program must have at least 3 – 4
progressions and regressions that you can use in a given

situation based on the ability of the athlete in front
of you.


So in a nutshell, that’s how I categorize all my young


This system is laid out in great detail within the IYCA
Level 1 – Youth Fitness Specialist certification.


Have a look for yourself –





‘Till next time,





One Response

  1. Thanks for this, Brian – It’s easy to just randomly group athletes by one factor – such as age – This makes you think about a couple of other important variables.

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