Prevent Overtraining for Young Athletes




Young Athletes Programming

In far too many situations throughout North America, strength coaches and personal trainers make common errors in their programming for young athletes, many of which can lead to overtraining syndromes –


Critical Analysis of Biomotor Ability


In working with young athletes, there is very little reason to ever ‘test’ their ability at certain lifts or speed variances. Your programming guidelines must be based around instilling proper execution of technique in your young athletes from a lift and movement economy standpoint. Having said that, gleaning 1, 3, 5 or 8 RM values on any particular exercise should be deemed a distant secondary consideration to teaching the proper values of form and function.


By using a ‘Teaching Model’ of exercise development rather than a ‘Training Model’ you are taking the pressure off of kids to reach for biomotor improvements at the expense of developing sound technique.


Changing Exercises to Often


Although when training adult clientele, there are neural advantages to altering your exercise selection often, with young athletes the reality is that the initial stages of training should comprise little more than dedicated time to teach and become proficient in the basics of lift and movement economy.


Far too often, trainers work to make young athlete routines challenging and neurally stimulating by incorporating complex programming and exercise selection into the mix early in the athletes’ training life. Resist the urge to make a neurological impact and instead, focus your efforts on developing sound competency in just a few basic lifts – the foundation you build during this time is paramount to eventually increasing both the volume and intricacy of your programming.


Consider the Athlete’s Entire Life


When creating a training program for a young athlete, you must take into consideration their entire life – that is, don’t just make training sessions hard for the sake of making them hard.

You do a disservice to the athlete and your business by following this practice.


For instance, if the young athlete is in-season for a particular sport, there practice and game schedule must be considered into the reality of your overall programming. Soccer practices, for instance four days per week coupled with one to two games per week, will leave any young athlete bordering on the verge of overtraining syndrome as it is. Your job during times like this is to augment them with restorative training that does not serve to push them lower beneath what would be considered normal and healthy biological levels.


Additionally, you must work to understand your young athletes’ eating and sleeping habits as well. Inappropriate nutrition and poor sleeping patterns (which many teenagers face today) are precursors to overtraining syndrome in that they are two of the more important restorative elements trainees can use to combat such concerns.


As a professional trainer working with young athletes, you are responsible and must assume accountability for their overall health and wellbeing. When training young athletes and in an effort to ensure quality, efficacy-based training practices, resist the temptation to do the ‘norm’ by making exercise sessions hard and physically challenging. Instead, follow the three key points above to ensure optimal training conditions and guard against the very real concerns of overtraining.


– Brian



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the concern of over-training.


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13 Responses

  1. Jeff Fellure says:


    Great post.

    I often think it is easy to forget what the athletes are doing outside of the gym and how much school work kids today have. Maybe I just didn’t stuff much as a kid (I was not an over achiever in high school), but I am amazed at the class load of some of the athletes I have worked with over the years and how late some of them have to stay up to get it done, while working in their respective sports and other training they may be doing.

  2. Rick Vittum says:

    I have the book “TRAINING YOUNG ATHELETES the Brian Grasso Method”. I purchased at the Perform Better Summit after speaking with Brian.

    Would I be able to by the DVD/CDs separately? I would be very interested, in fact I know I would buy them!

    Please reply

    Rick Vittum

  3. Brian,

    As always – nice job educating us and bringing to the forefront the issues that often times go unchecked in the youth fitness training arena.


  4. Paul Reneau says:

    It is too bad that trainers are not working on developmental movements a general way to get young athletes started. People work on sports specific movements like blocking in football, kicking in soccer, shooting in basketball etc., etc. and son on. Don’t get me wrong all of that is important but if a kid can’t move in all spheres then what good is that he can’t get to the point where he needs to get to his block. I am not just talking about foot work but all the basic movements that incooperates the biomotor skills. Often time I here that there is not enough times so the focus is directly on the game. I always thought that I wanted to be a college coach but interestingly I got a job coaching high school sprinters. I am amazed that a sophomoreat the high school cannot move very well diagonally and they have played sports for 5 or 6 years. So I am now content to teach movement and movement techniques thanks to experts like you Bryan and the person who turned me on to you Latif Thomas. Keep up the good work. Iam always in the learning mode.

  5. John says:

    I ordered Complete Athlete development, but I don’t think I got everything. I can’t figure out any way to contact you. Who do I call?


  6. I am in agreement with you- most important is correct tech. and form and not load at all for the young- 9-12 yr olds are the range I commonly see. In fact, I only train them two times weekly with 3 days between, and do almost no lifting but rather concentrate on feet and bodyweight exercises with some Pushing, Pulling, Climbing movements. The weights I do is focused on technique and light.
    I like hill running events with them also.

    Good job and keep teaching us new ideas for this area. I am expanding the amount I do with the young ones- they are fun!

  7. Ali says:

    Can you help me by letting me know if there is coach available in richmond hill, on.Canada
    who does coaching through your program?My son requires help with speed /atletism ,his sport is tennis.

  8. Nicholas says:


    I appreciated this article very much. I strongly agree with it and found it reassuring that your organization thinks this way. We have to look out for the children on and off of the field/court. Considering what they are into outside of the training session was a great point to make. Thanks again!

  9. Denise says:

    Here is an example: I worked with my sons soccer team (10 and 11 year olds) last year and the coach said he really noticed better movement and less injury, This year I have been busy at work and was unable to help. the team hired a “soccer trainer” (college kid to work on drills)
    We are back to static streches and long runs , and he is unapprochable to discuss concepts of movement. I told my husband, well we will have to see what the injury rate is to convince the head coach, what a shame. last night my son came home after 2 1/2 hours of practice (was suppose to be 2 hrs) and said I need two ice packs for my heels (achilles tendonitis), we just ran 2+ miles at the end of practice. I am livid – My son still likes soccer and I don’t want to sour him on soccer or his coach. I need suggestions. I have the Knowlege (Physical therapist, IYCA Level 1) and willingness but this guy will not listen.

  10. bader says:

    This is a Great information , Thank you very much BRIAN .


  11. Guy McKim says:

    Great stuff to read, just sad that there are so many ‘horror stories’ amongst your responses. I’ve been involved with coaching rugby for over 35 years, at all ages and levels – just recently had to suffer through my son’s invovlvement in a poor training program – it left me totally disheartened as I seemed ‘powerless to do anything’. The information in your program is appropriate at all ages. thanks for caring.

  12. Get Fit Fast says:

    Get Fit Fast…

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  13. […] offer these two definitions in an attempt to encourage us all to take a closer look at our young athletes when they walk in our doors. As I mentioned in last week’s article, over the past number of […]

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