The Youth Sports Mentality:
Without a Plan, You Will Be Mediocre at Best
The most common problem facing Trainers & Coaches today with
respect to developing young athletes over time is the ability to plan
long-term. The personal training and coaching professions are most
typically based on a session-to-session consideration – clients pay per
session most often and Trainers create training programs one session
at a time.
The same is true for coaching sport – most Coaches script
out one practice plan at a time, rather than create a relative flow
for an entire month or even season.
Limited Plan… Limited Gain
The problem with this industry standard as it relates to youths and
adolescents is that this type of shortsightedness serves to limit the
potential gains made by a young athlete. It is not unlike running a
business or corporation – when business owners take the time to
organize their objectives and action steps for a given month or year,
they almost always are successful at implementing the plan.
Far too many business owners, Trainers and Coaches feel as though
their actions during a sales drive, training session or practice is what
will lead to positive change, when in fact it is the planning that
occurs before these actions that accounts for the true gains.
Become An Objective Monster
No one can learn how to create Programming for Youth for 6 or 12 month plans in a day. It
takes time and diligent effort to acquire this skill, but your ability
to get better over time will have a direct and positive impact on
both your young athletes’ success rate as well as your businesses
ability to attract new clients.
Set an objective for yourself to create a system or plan that allows
you to develop long-term and wide-focused agendas for your
young athletes. Take several days or weeks if need be to create a
system that is streamlined and easy to implement – although your are
looking for a comprehensive system, the more basic you make it, the
more easy it will be to adhere to.
Start simply. Take a piece of paper and write out where you want
your young athletes to be in 4 weeks. Create headings and then
just fill in each category. For instance, what skill sets are you
working on now? To what degree of competency do you want
an athlete or team to be able to demonstrate that skill set in one
This can also be applied to elite adolescent athletes. Are you
working on squat or power clean totals right now? If so,
where do you want these numbers to be in 4 weeks?
Create Critical Path
Once you have organized your thoughts on where you would like
to be in 4 weeks, you have to consider how you are going to get
there. On the same or a different piece of paper, right out how
many training sessions or practices you have with this athlete or
team between now and 4 weeks from now.
Date each training session or practice on your piece of paper. Now,
using your skills as a Trainer or Coach, literally just fill in the blanks.
Compare where you want to be in 4 weeks with the number of
training sessions or practices you have between now and then. In
order to accomplish your 4-week goal, what action steps along a
critical path must be taken?
This is the essence of how to develop a long-term approach to
working with young athletes. You will simply just write out your
next several training sessions or practices in order to meet the
objectives you have laid out for 4 weeks from now.
Critical Path & Beyond
This system can easily be applied to 6 months or even a year. Just
follow the same type of procedure as mentioned above – set out an
objective for the time frame and decide where this athlete or team
needs to be within that time frame.
Let’s say you have a 13-year-old athlete for 6 months and you want
to determine an objective and critical path. Take out a piece of
paper and write out where you want this athlete to be in 6 months.
Be descriptive with this – what skill sets do you want him to have
mastered? What kind of movement-based techniques will he show
great competency in.
Once you have decided that, break those large objectives down into
more manageable ones and make them your first 4-week objective.
To get to your end destination, where to you have to be at the end
of this month? From there break it down even farther by deciding
on how many training sessions or practices you will have over the
next 4 weeks and design them in accordance with your 4 week
objective. Next month, do the same thing.
The End Result You Need
An amazing thing happens when you create objectives and critical
plans like this. You will start seeing results in your athletes and
teams beyond what you ever-dreamed possible. Failing to plan is
one of the biggest concerns facing this industry. It seems everything
is taken on a session-by-session basis with no vision or thought to
the long-term. It could argued that individual Trainers and Coaches
didn’t know how to plan for the future… well; now you do!
Practice the skill of objective writing and critical path creation. It
will take time to design a system that flows well for you, but it is
more than worth it to your young athletes’ and teams.
‘Till Next Time,
P.S. Don’t forget that tomorrow, Tuesday November 5, I am
unveiling the IYCA’s first CEU course – The Insider Secrets
to Program Design. Everything you ever wanted to know about Programming for Youth
and how I create training programs for the kinds of situations that
you face everyday…. Stay by your email for the announcement.