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.. More »

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.. More »

Athlete Development through the Ages

It is no secret that the development of the young athlete is multifaceted and it is the responsibility of the coach and/or trainer to take into consideration developmental, physical, and psychological aspects of training.  Stodden et al. (2008) has developed a model proposing that motor skill development, physical fitness, and perceived competence interact synergistically over time and will lead to increased physical activity and healthy weight trajectories over time from early childhood into adolescence.1  The crux of the model proposes that the early development of gross fundamental motor skills, promoted via early movement experiences and opportunities to be active will.. More »

Utilize M.O.L.D for Programming Youth

In developing programming for youth, it is important to utilize the IYCA’s four-part programming guideline, easily recalled by the acronym “MOLD.” Under this guideline, movement must dominate, the coach must be open to communication variances and learning style variances, and should avoid training and instead teach.  Let’s break these down. M-Movement Must Dominate: Young athletes are dynamic and ever-changing creatures. Development and optimization of motor control requires both depth and breadth of movement experiences. Specific skill instruction must take a back seat to general movement skills, particularly during the more foundational years of development. Far too often, coaches attempt to.. More »

The Super Power of Great Coaches and Leaders – Brett Klika

Great coaches know how to connect with their athletes beyond “X’s and O’s”. We all know brilliant coaches who understand programming and tactics, but when it comes to igniting a fire within their athletes, they can’t seem to make it happen. We also know coaches with an “adequate” level of knowledge and experience that have athletes who will run through a brick wall for them.  Research on the world’s most successful coaches and leaders points to the fact that tactical knowledge and experience are only a small part of what makes them successful. Effective coaches must also have the skills.. More »

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.. More »

High School Strength and Conditioning: How to Get Started – Jim Kielbaso

Because the IYCA has the only certification designed specifically for high school strength and conditioning – the IYCA HSSCS – I get a lot of questions about how to get your foot in the door or how to become a high school strength and conditioning coach.  I also happen to work in several high schools, I post a lot of content from weight rooms, and I love working in high school strength and conditioning, so it makes sense that people ask those questions.  But, is this job really right for you? Through the years, I’ve answered these questions individually, and this.. More »

Keeping Young Athletes Training – Brett Klika

Few things will help a young athlete develop physical skills at a higher level than consistent training. As youth strength and conditioning coaches, much of what we know from the legendary Bompa’s, Balyi’s, Drabik’s, and Verkhoshanskys of the world has been based on their observations working with kids daily, in a completely immersive institutionalized setting, for a long period of time. We are faced with a very different model of consistency here in the United States. If you are working as a youth strength and conditioning coach in the private sector, young athletes’ participation in your program is treated more.. More »

Single Leg Squat Variations – Jordan Tingman

Unilateral exercises, or single-leg squat variations, are beneficial for a variety of reasons including that they require stability, they have the potential to eliminate imbalances, and they can help create awareness of weaknesses. The single-leg squat has been utilized commonly in knee rehabilitation settings such as with individuals experiencing patellar tendinitis or going through a return-to-play protocol with knee surgeries. Considering the stress that sport has upon the knees themselves, implementing exercises that stress the knee joint is imperative when preparing the body for these demands. The single-leg squat is a great way to strengthen not only the larger muscles.. More »

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. 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.. More »

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.. More »

Top 3 Hip Hinge Exercises – Jordan Tingman

The ability to properly perform hip hinge exercises is a very important movement concept for any athlete, and every program needs to include a hinge exercise at some point.  This is a hip dominant exercise and utilizes a combination of the glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, and core muscles.  Not only will hip hinge exercises improve strength and power, but an inability to adequately perform this movement can lead to many other issues as Jason Goumas pointed out in his article about Overuse Injuries. In this video, I break down three hip hinge exercises that I commonly utilize in my.. More »

How to Create a Niche? – Eric Cressey & Jim Kielbaso

A lot of strength & conditioning professionals wonder how others have created strong businesses and niches in the industry.  In a nutshell, creating a niche is focusing your efforts on a specific group or sub-set of a larger population.  For example, you might focus your efforts on female soccer players, athletes 8-11 years old, adults over 65, high school hockey players, offensive linemen in football, or athletes recovering from an injury.  It doesn’t mean you won’t ever work with other people, but focusing on one group of people allows you to establish a foothold in one segment of a larger.. More »

The Basis of All Training Programs – Joe Powell

When the human body receives a stimulus, it adapts to it in preparation to receive that stimulus again. The next time, you make that stimulus slightly stronger to continue the adaptation process. That’s progressive overload! While it’s way more complicated that that, this process should be top-of-mind when choosing ANY exercise and implementing ANY strength program.  Of course, there are thousands of ways to implement progressive overload – periodized programs, linear progression, multiple-set schemes, HIT training, etc. – but the principle of progressive overload should be taught to every athlete so they understand how small improvements made over time will.. More »

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.. More »

Business Plans for Sports Performance – Jim Kielbaso

Opening a business without a solid plan is a recipe for disaster.  It’s important that you have a thorough knowledge of your business and have thought about as many different options and scenarios as possible so that you’re prepared for the ups and downs of starting a business.  Before you start a business, take the time to think through everything involved in running a sports performance business, and use your business plan as a roadmap for success. There are two kinds of business plans for sports performance businesses – a Traditional Plan and a Lean Startup Plan.  The Small Business.. More »

4 Reasons Why a Muscle Feels Tight – Dr. Greg Schaible

Stretching can often be a polarizing topic among rehab and performance specialists. On one end of the spectrum, you have people who seemingly hand out stretches for every injury and think it’s the solution to everyone’s problem. On the other hand, you have people who believe that you should never stretch and that there are no benefits to stretching whatsoever. Before we start talking about what is right and wrong, we first need to appreciate what “tightness” really is, so we can discuss the potential reasons why one may choose a particular intervention over another. Hint: It’s not as simple.. More »

How to Get Better at Push Ups – Jim Kielbaso

It’s no surprise that many athletes want to get better at push ups.  It’s a foundational exercise that requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere.  Many coaches also look for ways to help athletes get better at push ups, but simply doing them more often isn’t a great way for many people to improve, especially those who aren’t capable of performing many good push ups. When I work with athletes who struggle with them, but want to get better at push ups, I take a three step approach that has worked for hundreds of athletes.  This approach is outlined.. More »

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.. More »

Pelvic Tilt Control for Athletes – Jim Kielbaso

Pelvic tilt control is something that frustrates both coaches and athletes, but it is often not addressed very thoroughly.  Coaches may recognize an exaggerated arch in the lower back, but that’s just one part of the equation.  The ability to control anterior and posterior pelvic tilt is critical to sprinting, squatting, hinging, and a variety of athletic movements.  Many athletes struggle with these movements because they simply don’t know how to create or control pelvic tilt. For example, when you see an athlete struggle to maintain a flat back during squatting or hinging, they may not be able to control.. More »