Athletic Development For Youth
Training for speed and agility is essential for those serious about excelling in competitive sports. 2x All-American football player Dan Fichter knows what it takes.
BG: What’s your background in youth sports and athletics? Have you trained a lot of young athletes?
DF: My Athletic development background is very simple. It was fueled by my love for sports. All sports! When I was done playing football in the Arena Football League, I decided to make it a goal to learn from the best around. I have tried so many different programs in the fitness industry, I have seen it all. I went to the best to search for the answers! Dr. Mel Siff has helped my understanding of how the human body operates and how to think outside the box. From there, my experiences have included many conversations with Dr. Peter Weyand who is the leading authority on human movement and how it related to running energetics. Coach Ken Jalkowski who knows the process of marrying the science and coaching helped me translate some of Peter’s very complex theories on what limits how fast humans can run. John Davies has also been an instrumental part of my growth as a coach and an expert in the field of strength and conditioning. In this business you have to be learning all the time. Listen to new ideas, and then as the Late Dr. Mel Siff taught me "prove all things"
I have coached a lot of different levels of kids in many different sports. Wrestling, football, Track, Martial arts, plus I have been a physical focused on human growth and development, motor skill development, as well as some interesting research in the lab focusing on the biomechanics of short sprints. So, I guess you can say I have a pretty decent background dealing with the kids and how they move. At this point in my career as a performance coach, the majority of athletes that I consult with on a personal basis are older. (Pro athletes, College level, and elite high school athletes) However, I feel it is paramount for kids to have the proper training and instruction as they pursue their sports interests.
I run many Speed and Agility camps for kids ages 11- 18. As a matter of fact, I will be joining forces with a business called AthleticFX whose main goal is to work with younger athletes on developing the proper movement tool box so they can develop and transition to higher level skill training as they get older. As I have stated on many occasions, when I train older athletes, I can tell they lack certain fundamental movement and coordination skills. They should have received this type of training a long time ago. I do tons of remedial work that I don’t think I would have to do if kids progressed the right way in training when they were younger.
BG: There are a lot of coaches, parents and even trainers who treat young athletes as if they were "little adults". What I mean by that is they will take the training routine of a superstar athlete and use it as a guide when working with youngsters. Why, if at all, should we warn against that kind of training?
DF: This is a huge mistake, and can only hurt a child, and maybe damage their chances to grow and experience tons of things that kids should normally experience. Children don’t play today. We are dealing with a huge population of unfit kids. The result of this is a population of obese kids with back problems that will continue to spiral out of control. We have to get kids moving! (That is the PE teacher in me speaking) Get your kids into a sound youth program with people who know what they are talking about. Don’t follow what you read in a magazine. One size doesn’t fit all!
BG: The age old debate is "How old should an athlete be before they begin lifting weights." What’s your view on that controversial topic?
DF: Well, in my opinion it is not very controversial when you explain what is happening from a biomechanical stand point. When "experts" talk about maximal weight training it is extremely misleading to think that kids will not benefit from a solid strength program, or for that matter will subject them selves to injury if they lift too heavy. People have to understand that the complexity of movements has to do more with each individual kid rather than a perceived age number per say.