Training young athletes… It seems that everybody dabbles in this market
Whether the fitness or sport training professional is a Physical Therapist by trade, Personal Trainer to the average adult clientele or Strength Coach to elite sporting stars, when stating their bios and areas or expertise, it seems that the sentence always ends with ‘I am Training Young Athletes, too‘.
And why not, right?
Training young athletes is the fastest growing niche within the entire fitness industry.
It’s worth over $4 billion a year in the United States alone and more than 1 million children, youths and teens hired a Personal Trainer in 2007 – a large number for the purpose of enhancing sport performance.
But that term, ‘enhancing sport performance’ is something that doesn’t really belong in the vernacular of the youth sports training world. At least not in the way we currently use it.
At the risk of sounding acrimonious, let me ask you this question.
How much do you really know about human growth, development and the necessary components of training clients in the pediatric and formative years?
Almost without exception, every ‘sport-performance training center’ and youth sporting association in North America both markets and incorporates some degree of plyometric conditioning into the routines of the athletes they manage. More often than not, the trainer or coach prescribes an unintelligible series of jumping exercises and can be seen either holding a clipboard and a stop watch as they count and record the number of jumps or foot contacts a young athlete makes within a certain period of time, or barking out commands to the young athletes ‘jump higher’. Plyometric training has become such a ‘catch-phrase’ in the vernacular of trainers and coaches that it is often marketed as a sole measure of distinction for a training facility or individual coach/trainer. Do you know how many sporting clubs, for instance, have told me that they would love to have their young athletes train at my facility, but their Director of Coaching has a ‘plyometric class’ that he/she hosts every week and that’s all the conditioning they need?
Plyometric training has become watered down in North America to such a level that now even basic health clubs have introduced ‘plyometric jumps’ into their general group exercise classes as a means of achieving some measure of ‘high intensity’ training. Jumping and then abruptly stopping and holding a fixed position, jumping and then jumping again after a cursory pause or being taken through a series of jumping exercises without being taught proper execution of either the jumping or landing phases respectively are simply gross misappropriations of what plyometric training is or how it should be applied.