Sport Specialization for Young Athletes: Part 2

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By Toby Brooks, PhD, ATC, CSCS, PES, YFS-3




With dwindling opportunities for physical education in cash-strapped school districts and increasing competition within both school-based and private or public sports leagues, parents hungry for assistance have generated a demand for private training services catered especially to young athletes. One such business, Athletic Revolution International, is a growing franchise based model with over 30 franchisees in 10 states. Unlike many other similarly targeted training businesses, the Athletic Revolution training system has been designed around the unique physical and psychological needs of developing athletes as they progress through a well defined developmental system as well as specializing in Sport Specialization for Young Athletes.


Instead of focusing on short term gains at the expense of long term sport enjoyment and performance benefits, Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) programming like that used at Athletic Revolution is designed to slowly and steadily develop motor skills and abilities over time, enhancing athlete enjoyment, ensuring healthy musculoskeletal balance and development, and gradually moving toward sport specialization only after an adequate athletic “base” has been established.

Sport Specialization for Young Athletes

The end result is an athlete who is happier, healthier, and ultimately more effective when the significance of sport participation begins to increase during the teen years.


IYCA founder Brian Grasso, a world renowned athletic development professional himself who has authored countless books and trained well over 20,000 young athletes around the globe, summarizes the philosophy of LTAD quite succinctly. “What a growing and maturing body needs in order to remain injury free and develop optimal athletic skill is variety. With respect to training, this amounts to NOT having a hyper-focus on making a young athlete a better football player by only doing exercises in the gym that the NFL players would do,” Grasso wrote. “The strongest and fastest athletes in any sport are the ones who had the greatest diversity of training while they were young.”


That said, parents and coaches are encouraged to analyze the sport exposures of the children under their care with a critical eye. While attempting to win the little league championship may seem like a wonderful goal, it should never come at the cost of what is best for the athlete’s long term development.


Sport Specialization for Young Athletes





Do You Train High School Athletes and want to learn more on Sport Specialization for Young Athletes?


Please Click Here —> https://iyca.org/highschool/







Callender, SS. The early specialization of youth sports. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. 2010; 2(6):255-257.
Brenner JS. Overuse injuries, overtrain­ing, and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. Pediatrics. 2007;119:1242-1245.
Stein CJ, Micheli LJ. Overuse inju­ries in youth sports. Phys Sportsmed. 2010;38:102-108.
Baker J, Cobley S, Fraser-Thomas J. What do we know about early sport special­ization? Not much! High Ability Studies. 2009;20:77-89.






5 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    I have just retired from high school wrestling coaching after 15 years to return to the youth level. The club that I built starting 23 years ago created the best high school results in the history of the program. Some over zealous parents took over the club, pushed tournament competition on 5, 6 and 7 year olds and have virtually destroyed our entire program. The kids quit by 5th grade, and after 10 years of dwindling numbers, the youth club put zero kids into our Jr. High program this year. This is a tragedy that is happening all over the country. Thank you Brian, and the IYCA for opening the eyes of parents, coaches and youth organizations. I just ordered your High School Certification program, and cannot wait to dive into it. Keep up the important work that you do.

  2. Ron says:

    Toby thank you for your insightful part 1 and 2 articles on youth training. I have just recently become acquanted with the IYCA and some of Brian’s philosophies on training young athletes and am very pleased with what I have read so far. I belonged to NSCA since the 1970’s but dropped my membership recently because the content in their information was becoming too technical for the lay person to understand and utilize.

    Like Dan I retired 5 years ago from the teaching and coaching profession after 35 years of involvement. Recently, I have been talked into helping my son coach my grandsons 4th, 5th and 6th grade flag football team. While doing this, I have been very shocked and dismayed at the lack of physical abilities of our young children today. They can’t perform some very basic physical activities…like running, running backwards, doing a single push-up, sit-ups, jumping jacks or knowing their right from their left!? They all have very poor core strenght for their age groups. When they fall down, they have trouble getting back up.

    Being a grandfather, this state of “out-of-shape” of our young children concerns me especially when we are putting them into game situations in any of the sports, and, especially contact sports.

    I am also disappointed when watching my Junior High School aged grandsons workout and worry about their safety.

    I also have ordered your certification program and cannot wait to get started. Hopefully, I won’t be one of those old, out-of-shape, uninformed people who try to butt in uninformed. And, maybe I can help turn some heads away from the current trends in training young athletes.

    Thank you.

  3. Brendan Murray says:

    I purchased material from Latif Thomas


    Very simple answer – if it makes sense to me, well then that’s good enough.

    Believe or not, when I suggested to another Coach (definition – former Club Champion Athlete)
    his reply was:
    “Don’t mind that, that’s only some guy making money on the Internet”
    I did not think of it at the time, but I should have retorted
    “yeh, I know that, because I sent him some”

  4. Matt says:

    This second part is spot on mate. I agree wholeheartedly on every aspect. I have a very keen interest in youth development and am looking to start my own gym catering for that specific purpose – providing a professional well programmed training environment for kids of all ages and sports.

  5. […] Specialization for Young Athletes: Part 1 & Part 2 – As I’ve said plenty of times…it sucks. Don’t do […]

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