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.. More »

Competence: Building Relationships & Buy-In – Jared Markiewicz

In the first installment of this mini-series surrounding the Self Determination theory, we discussed using relatedness to better motivate your staff, athletes you coach and structuring a system so you can teach your staff how to better motivate athletes.  It’s highly recommended to go over Part 1 first, so take a few minutes to review that if you haven’t already.   The second part of this mini-series focuses on competency and using it in the same way to drive motivation. So let’s dive in! Competence: Coach to Staff Motivating your staff to continually improve can be challenging at times. They may.. More »

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.  .. More »

How to Develop Mental Strength in Youth Athletes – Jill Kochanek

A common question that I get from coaches is: How can I make my athletes more mentally tough? For as big of a buzz word as mental toughness is though, the concept is a black box. In this post, I’ll open up that box and bust 4 harmful myths about mental toughness. Dispelling these myths is vital for coaches to actually help young athletes develop mental strength and support their overall mental well-being. Before we get there, however, it’s important to consider our current context. That is, why are coaches concerned about developing mental strength in this generation of youth.. More »

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.. More »

Hip Stretches for Lower Back Pain – Jordan Tingman

It is very common for athletes to experience lower back pain, especially when they begin a new training program or train harder than they have in the past.  As muscles get sore and/or stiff from training, they will “hold onto” certain positions as a way to maintain different positions.  Often, tightness in the internal hip/back muscles throws postural alignment off, which can lead to even more pain.  This pain can be felt in various parts of the spine, but in this article, I will mostly focus on stretching muscle groups in the hips and lower back. When stretching tight areas,.. More »

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. “Left foot here!” “Decelerate!” “Sprint!” “Dribble!” “Faster!” “Accelerate!” “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.. More »

Overlooked Keys to a Great Push Up – Greg Schaible

The push up is one of those exercises that everyone loves to do, but few athletes or clients do them exceptionally well…. This video goes over three of the most important technical aspects of the movement:  Most people understand the first point. The elbows should be at 45 degree angle or slightly under. Not too in close to the body or flared out really wide either. Scapula thoracic positioning is a high priority during a push up. Rib cage retracted at the top of the push up with scapula sitting flush on the thorax.  An important part of the serratus.. More »

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.. More »

Relatedness: Building Relationships & Buy-In – Jared Markiewicz

Setting the Foundation for Motivating Athletes I want to walk you through a situation that happens to me often in the gym: I see my athlete, Drake, and his heels are coming off the floor as he transitions from the eccentric to the concentric portion of the squat. So I cue him: “drive down through the floor to stand up.” Now I walk away to coach someone else since his set is done.  A few minutes later, I am watching from a distance and I see after his second rep, his heels come off the floor. But then rep 3,.. More »

Is Olympic Lifting a MUST? – Jim Kielbaso

Power/explosiveness is one of the most important attributes a strength & conditioning professional (SCP) can develop in an athlete. One of the most important decisions the SCP can make is how power development will be accomplished in his/her program. For years, coaches have debated over the need for Olympic lifting to develop power. Proponents of Olympic lifting cited huge power outputs and the importance of power being generated with high force production, or against high external loads. Loading the triple extension in an “athletic” movement like an O-lift was a staple of many programs. On the flip side, other coaches.. More »

Cluster Training, Part 2 – Karsten Jensen

In Part 1 of Karsten Jensen’s article on Cluster Training, he explained many of the elements that lay the foundation for cluster training.  In Part 2, he goes into more depth on the 5 steps to effective use of cluster training so that you can immediately begin to utilize this concept in your training programs.  Be sure to go back and read Part 1 before your begin reading Part 2. SECTION 5 Tactic #3: Auto-regulated Training The definition of the word auto includes self and spontaneous, used  in  the  formation  of compound-words. (24)  Thus, auto-regulated training is self-regulated – or athlete/client.. More »

Cluster Training: Break Down the Set to Build Up the Body, Part 1 – Karsten Jensen

A few years ago I consulted briefly with a young woman who wanted to learn Olympic Weightlifting. From our first session it was clear that she had great motivation, adequate flexibility, solid coordination but little muscle mass. At the end of the first session she was given technical exercises to work on as well as Front Squats that were to be performed in the following way: The safety pins were placed corresponding to the height of her shoulders in the bottom position of the Front Squat. She was to perform one repetition at a time by stepping under the bar,.. More »

Keeping Shoulders Healthy – Jordan Tingman

The shoulder is a highly complex joint with many muscles and ligaments surrounding it for stability and protection. Because the shoulders are so inter-connected with the torso, I consider the shoulder joint part of the core. Proximal stability is required for safe execution and protection of the shoulder joint, and left untrained can lead to injury or pain at some point in an athlete’s career. Shoulder stability and strengthening exercises should aim to strengthen the rotator cuff and structures surrounding the shoulder.  When performing any shoulder exercise, it is important to emphasize retracting the scapulae to ensure that.. More »

Narrow Your Niche, Increase Your Impact – Brett Klika

We’ve all heard the old adage “A Jack of all trades is a master of none”. This holds true to nearly every aspect of life, including the role many of us have assumed as a youth strength and conditioning coach. In becoming a youth coach, we’ve definitely narrowed down our focus of mastery. However, within “youth” there are now more varied needs than ever. Sport coaches, classroom teachers, and parents are now looking for specific solutions to the specific needs of niche populations within youth. These niche populations may not be served effectively under the “come all” strength and conditioning.. More »

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,.. More »

6 Reasons Your Athletes Shouldn’t Deadlift – Phil Hueston

Deadlifts are the worst. Let’s face it, everyone hates them. They’re not fun. They’re not cool. They’re hard. Doing them is just a grind. I think your athletes should skip the deadlifts. Find something better, easier and cooler to do in their place like some fancy, new piece of equipment or the sexy new exercise variation you just saw on Instagram. Just don’t include the deadlift in your athlete’s training plans. Here’s the reasons why your athletes shouldn’t deadlift. 1. Everyone loves an anterior pelvic tilt – The glute and hamstring activation stimulated by the deadlift helps correct anterior pelvic.. More »

Progressive Overload: Training vs. Exercise – Jim Kielbaso

The principle of progressive overload is perhaps the most important concept for coaches to understand when developing athletes.  It is one of the most basic differences between training and simply exercising. Unfortunately, this concept is often misunderstood and misapplied, especially when working with athletes under 18 years old.  While developing athletes can be a very complex undertaking, I’d like to simplify the concept of progressive overload and discuss how to most appropriately apply it as part of an overall training program. The most simplistic way to explain progressive overload is to slowly challenge yourself to do more than you’re currently.. More »

Improving Strength to Weight Ratio with Your Youngest Athletes – Brett Klika

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it appears that roughly 32% of children are either overweight or obese. Compound this with large scale youth inactivity and the result is a growing number of young athletes who will struggle with poor strength to weight ratios beginning at a young age. As youth strength and conditioning coaches, we are in a position to help these children improve this important component of health and athleticism while minimizing frustration with our youngest athletes. While bodyweight exercises may prove troublesome for these youngsters, there are other effective movement strategies that can help them build.. More »

Concussion Awareness & Mitigation, Part 2 – Joe Powell

Part 2 of 2 on concussion awareness and mitigation for the S&C Professional discusses when and how to program strength training for the neck, as well as exercise variations that can fit any program. Strength Training the Neck and Its Associated Musculature Neck training and its importance is not a new-found fad or focus in the strength and conditioning community. However, as part 1 detailed, what has emerged recently is concussion awareness and hopeful prevention has spread from not only the contact sports, but to the non-contact type as well. Clinical diagnosis along with research-based studies are showing athletes in.. More »