Archive for “Youth Athletes” Tag

Lessons From the “Greats”

They Do it Again and Again…Lessons from the “Greats”

There are a lot of lessons that High School Strength & Conditioning Professionals can learn from the “greats” in sports. Names like Bolt, Walsh and Phelps likely resonate with you in some way.

They are great athletes, but not only that…they repeat greatness on a daily basis.

What if you could help your athletes become “their” great?! 🙂

Making a positive impact on youth through great coaching can help your athletes live up to their potential. They all have the abilities to do something great. How will you help them?

In this video, Dr. Haley Perlus talks about what makes Bolt, Walsh and Phelps so spectacular. The best thing is you can teach your high school athletes these skills as well. That’s right, skills like having fun, being “real”, having the mindset to compete and focusing on the little things.

These are just a few things that Dr. Perlus talks about in this 6 minute video. Watch the video above now.

Want to Help Your Athletes with the Mental Side of Their Game?

Want to Enable Them to Succeed Again and Again? Here is a FREE RESOURCE FOR YOU to get started!



S’s of Success in Sport Performance

S’s of Success in Sports

A year and a half ago I co-wrote an e-book entitled, Pigskin Prep: The Definitive Youth Football Training Program. Although Pigskin Prep is geared towards preparing our youth for the sport of tackle football, many of the concepts apply to all young athletes.

One of the most important concepts in Pigskin Prep is the S’s of Success. Every coach who works with young athletes should follow this.

Kids are kids. The days of lording over them and expecting them to simply “do as you say” are over. Using the framework of the Pillars of Prep (Pigskin Prep), the four S’s of Success for training and coaching youth athletes were born.

Four S’s of Success

S of Success #1: Smile

Best friendsThis comes first because it is by far the most important S when working with young athletes. If kids do not enjoy what they are doing, they will more often than not tune out their coach and not be attentive during the training session or practice.

Parents will use the disposition of their kids after practice as a thermometer to gauge whether it’s worth the time, commitment and financial investment.

If the perception is that the kids aren’t enjoying it, parents are going to be reluctant in having them continue their involvement with the team or training program.

All kids have the potential to learn and improve their overall physical ability.

What they need is an environment that is both enjoyable and conducive to learning. There is a fine line, however, with how far you can go with this.

Pro Tip: Children still need structure and will benefit most from a systematic approach to training. Show your personality and relate to the kids in your own way. Foster a positive, fun and safe training/learning environment.

Cooperative-based games early in a training session or practice get kids smiling and laughing while simultaneously setting the tone for the remainder of the day.

Pro Tip: Positive affirmation is very important with young athletes. A simple high five or “great job” can go a very long way in building trust. The goal should be intense positivity with your environment and culture.

S of Success #2: Sweat

Sweating is one of the top S’s of Success for youth athletes. The goal of any solid youth fitness program is to prepare children for physical performance!

One of the main goals when training youth athletes is to increase their ability to do more work (work capacity). It may come as a surprise, but this is accomplished by…wait for it…steadily increasing the amount of work they do!

It is perfectly fine if kids are pushed to a point where they’re breathing heavy and feeling uncomfortable. Learning how to get out of one’s comfort zone is an extremely valuable lesson.

One of the biggest mistakes we see when it comes to training children is overworking. There’s a big difference between optimal training and hard training.

Pro Tip: Your goal is to have kids train hard enough to sweat and breath heavily while maintaining the ability to still execute the exercises and/or drills correctly. As soon as form breaks down, you’re wasting time and ingraining flawed movement patterns—which serves no purpose whatsoever.

S of Success #3: Smart

Having a positive and success-minded attitude isn’t something people are just born with—it CAN be taught. In addition to teaching youth athletes the How and Why of training, trainers and coaches have the incredible opportunity to teach them the requisite tools for success in life, not just athletics.

Most children are actually very success hungry. Without experiencing it regularly, they get deflated, which can lead to their self-esteem being negatively affected (Drabik 1996).

This is NOT a rationale for the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.

Learning that failure is real and loss does happen is equally important for the overall development of a child.

Pro Tip: Finding the balance and challenging kids creates opportunities for them to experience success on a regular basis. Success begets success.

The more success children have, the more of it they want.
Check out Our FREE Mental Toughness Checklist today.


S of Success #4: Snack

almondsNutrition is critical for youth athletes. In their formative years, the majority of a child’s nutritional habits will be set.

In addition to setting the foundation for a healthy life, kids need to learn that what they’re putting in their body can affect their performance both positively and negatively.

Below are a few points one can use to set the foundation for a healthy life when it comes to real food:

  1. Just eat real food
  2. Minimize processed sugars
  3. Consume protein in every meal
  4. Eat every 3-4 hours
  5. Understand how proteins, fats and carbohydrates function in relation to your body


“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
— Vince Lombardi

About the Author: Jeffrey King

Jeff KingJeffrey King, MA, CSCS
– Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10
– Co-author of Pigskin Prep: The Definitive Youth Football Training Program

3 Ways to Optimize Performance of the Mind

Optimizing Performance of the Mind

Get three case-study examples and mental toughness tips from Sport Psychology Expert, Dr. Haley Perlus…for FREE!

Who else wouldn’t want the ability to help athletes develop the mental side of their game and eliminate the fears and roadblocks that may be preventing them from their true potential?

Mental toughness training is becoming more prevalent in the youth fitness and performance arena. With the pressure to “be your best”, coaches, trainers and parents are looking for the edge.

Packaging physical and mental toughness into one athlete is a rare thing, but the athletes that have this are certainly among the ones that stand out. The good news is you have the ability to train athletes to use their brain in any game.

3 Things that will Improve Your Athlete’s Mental Toughness

Below are three things that you can start talking about today that will improve your athlete’s mentality and mental toughness.

#1: Practice Being Present

BrainPresence of mind is important in all training. We may channel this into focus in some cases. In their younger years, kids are familiar with what focus means, but don’t realize that practicing it can improve effort and outcomes.

To be truly present, no matter the age, an athlete can channel their thoughts into one bucket or one area. This could be a focal point or an idea.

Practice having your athlete focus on one thing. For example, a single leg hold is a great tool to demonstrate the importance of being present. If their eyes are wandering and mouths are chattering, it’s likely they will not be able to accomplish the hold.

Identify this as an example of being present and focused. This skill will be integral as they grow into their bodies and future movements.

Pro Tip: Use this exercise with older athletes as well. Take it one step further and relate it back to their sport or training. Adjust the amount of time that you require focus, depending on their age and abilities.

Question for Your Athlete(s): When will you need to use this kind of presence/focus during a game or during training?

#2: Retrain Your Brain

MindsetPatterns and habits are all shaped and molded by experience. Often, athletes think that “what is” is “what has to be”.

It is possible to retrain your brain, and as a performance coach you need to recognize when and how to help your athletes do that.

Reframing thoughts can be challenging, and it takes patience and practice. It’s about turning “I CAN’T do that” into “I CAN do that”.

Eliminate certain vocabulary that negatively impacts the athlete’s mind.

Words like can’t, won’t and don’t can trigger negative responses. Think in terms of can, will and do. Here is an example:

WHAT YOU HEAR: I can’t hit the ball.

REFRAMED: I can hit the ball when I focus on seeing the ball into the zone.

Pro Tip: Focus on the can’s, will’s and do’s of training.

Question for Your Athlete(s): How can you turn that statement into a statement that is positive?

#3: No Thinking Allowed

stupidOverthinking leads to underperforming. Parents and coaches fill the brains of athletes with things they need to think about and instructions like “do this” and “do that”.

It’s time to put the brakes on.

Pro Tip: Create cue words that elicit a response that you want, but doesn’t overcomplicate the process.

Athletes should know that they don’t need to think about things all the time. Sometimes they need to stop thinking in order to let the real magic happen.

Recognize the athletes that overthink innately, and be tactful in your approach to teaching. Overcoaching leads to underperforming too…which is just another way of saying, stop filling their heads with useless information.

When the outcome is there, let it be. If it isn’t, and you aren’t getting there…let it go for the day and say “no thinking allowed.”


There are many practical and applicable ways to help your athletes achieve mental toughness. Get free access on how to discover ways to help your athletes overcome their greatest fears and conquer obstacles.

Julie Hatfield

5 Reasons Performance Coaches Love Resistance Band Training

If you don’t use resistance bands in your training already, here are 5 reasons to start implementing them today!

Reasons to Implement Resistance Band Training

Reason #1: Versatility

RBT Band TrainingResistance bands are one of the most versatile tools aside from the body itself. Their versatility allows for unique implementation for individuals and teams alike.

Develop your athlete’s speed techniques, upper body strength, lower body power, rotational strength and so much more with this one continuous looped band!

Reason #2: Control and Stability

Resistance bands allow athletes to learn how to control their bodies, which requires a “boat load” of stability and core engagement.

Why is this important? Think of how universal it is for athletes to be able to control movement. No matter the sport, timely control is demonstrated by your best athletes.

Reason #3: Variety

Sometimes coaches just have to change it up. Plus, with all of the competing stimulation for youth, they need some variety as well. Bands are a fun, effective way to train that also helps performance coaches add some variety in their programs.

It is an exciting tool that the kids love!

Reason #4: They’re Compact & Easy to Transport

LuggageSeriously, they can go anywhere! Resistance bands don’t take up a ton of space, and they aren’t heavy or hard to transport. Stick them in your trunk and use them in every session! (They are 100% TSA approved so you can even fly with them.) 😉

On a similar note, resistance band training requires little space. So if you are stuck in tight quarters, they are the optimal tool to bring more value to your training.

Reason #5: Results

You can literally feel the results immediately. Resistance bands allow athletes to dynamically move, have resistance and establish strong systemic bodies.

Bands allow athletes to improve posture, feel the correct mechanics and provide a range of resistance that challenges anyone who uses them.

If you are a performance coach and want to learn how bands can make your programs better, check out the IYCA Resistance Band Training Instructor Course today.

What are you waiting for? Train with bands today!

Want to get started?

Grab your bands today at resistancebandtraining.com and get 15% off using the Coupon Code rbtiyca15.

RBT Coupon Code

About the Author: Julie Hatfield

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes. Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉


Baseball Season is a Marathon – Not a Sprint

As baseball season is well underway in most areas of the country, youth athletes across the country are dusting off gloves and bats and have geared their arms up for the spring season.

At any age, there is a sense of urgency to make every toss faster and further than the one before it. No matter the position, throwing can cause wear and tear on even the most prepared arm.

Here are THREE recommendations that every athlete should follow to keep them ON the field and OUT of the doctor’s office.

#1: Mechanics over Throwing More

The idea that to throw better you just need to “throw more” is rampant in the youth sports arena. It seems the same goes for all sports. Shoot more baskets, hit more slap shots, or simply jump until you can’t jump higher.

There is some truth to this but the key word here is some.Boy Throwing

Pro Tip: There are volume limits of which the shoulder and elbow can tolerate before breakdown sets in and thus the title of this article.

Young athletes come out of the gate sprinting in late winter/early spring and wear their arms out before things really heat up.

Teaching proper mechanics is one great strategy to reduce wear and tear on the arm. No different than a car with poor alignment where one tire wears faster than the others, the same is true for throwing. A great way to do this is to focus on throwing mechanics at the beginning and end of each practice. Perhaps it’s odd to focus on mechanics when the arm is exhausted but this is where education is most important.

The goal here is two fold.

First, having the athlete focus on throwing correctly, even for short distances, will reinforce correct mechanics while tired. Second (and most important), if a baseball player cannot throw correctly because their arm is too tired or it hurts, then it’s time to stop!

Too often athletes will just “sling” the ball or alter mechanics to keep throwing. This is a very bad idea. This is another solid education moment for any athlete because fatigue and pain seems to help absorb words better than when things are going well.

#2: Strengthen the Support System Throughout the Season

Once the season starts, the strength and conditioning that was done in preparation seems to go by the wayside. This makes sense, as there are so many hours in the day and hitting your cutoff man takes precedent over crunches.

Throwing requires a complex series of movements and too often we focus on only a few parts of the chain. Postural and scapular muscles are very important to position the shoulder correctly. When these muscles are strong, the rotator cuff doesn’t have to work as much to maintain good positioning while throwing.

Strengthening the postural muscles in the middle of the spine, obliques, and lower trap muscles helps. The combination of these muscles rotates the trunk and creates ideal arm angle during throwing. As long as these muscles are all working together, the rotator cuff doesn’t take as much of a beating.

Pro Tip: Simple exercises will do the trick such as superman’s, prone shoulder flexion with light dumbbells, and supine single leg adduction drops from side to side to engage the core.

What does swinging have to do with it?

Child at batThousands of swings over the course of the season reek havoc on the hip, pelvic, and lower back. This is because all the force transfers from the legs, up through the back, into the arms, and then contact is made with the ball, sending a jolt of energy back through the system.

This is important to throwing because many hitters and athletes will start to develop tight psoas, chest, and lat muscles from swinging and sprinting. When all these muscles become over-tightened, they tend to pull the lower back into extension and then shoulder into a downward rotated position.

What does this mean? Thousands and thousands of throws will become challenging, reducing the efficiency and quality of every throw.

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep the hips, chest, and lower back muscles nice and loose to maintain ideal body mechanics with throwing.

#3: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Every long distance runner knows they have to pace themselves because training only for 20 miles won’t finish the race. Baseball is no different. Having and executing a long-term game plan to ensure that a young athlete’s body is working from start to finish is paramount to long-term athletic success.

Too much of youth sports focuses on a game, a tournament, or a showcase. If attitudes and habits only address the now, the future for baseball—or any sport for that matter—is nothing more than a crap shoot.

At work, we put money into a 401k for retirement, we exercise to keep the heart strong and pumping, and we take vacations to keep stress from eating our body’s apart.

Do all the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves.

Play ball!

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT

Want to help make sure your athletes are prepared to perform for the long-run?

Learn how to leverage the Long Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. Sign up today to get instant access to our free 7-minute video and PDF checklist.

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About the Author: Keith J. Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research, and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

Additional noteworthy items about Keith:

  • Keith is currently a reviewer for the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (IJSPT) on a variety of topics including throwing athletes, concussions, and ACL rehabilitation.
  • Keith has produced several online CEU courses for PTWebcuation.com on the topics of running injuries, ACL rehabilitation, Patellofemoral Syndrome, and injuries to the Foot and Ankle.
  • In 2012, Keith participated in a concussion education program in Newcastle, OK that resulted in the documentary “The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer” which had several runs on PBS worldwide.
  • Keith has also been published in a variety of media, publishing almost 100 articles through venues including MomsTEAM.com, Advanced Magazine, the 9s Magazine, the American Coaching Academy, and Suite101.
  • Keith was also featured on Fox2News several times on topics of concussions and ACL injuries.
  • In 2008, Keith was a winner of the Olin Business Cup at Washington University for his product innovation “Medibite” a jaw rehabilitation system designed to improve the outcomes for individuals suffering TMJ dysfunction.

Tempo Training for Young Athletes

Young Athletes and Tempo Training

As a coach, I believe that the chronological age of an athlete means much less than their developmental age. For example, we have three boys that joined our program this summer. They are headed into the 7th grade and are all 12 years old.

However, they each spend a great deal of their time playing for club soccer teams, AAU basketball teams, and other top-tier programs in respective sports like golf, tennis and hockey.

Obviously, they are exceptional athletes who are used to being treated like high school or even collegiate athletes. And once we took them through our performance evaluation, their attitude and ability to understand objectives matched that of some of our 16 or even 17-year olds.

So clearly they fit better into our High School Performance training model than our Development model (built for 10-13 year olds). However, their performance on the FMS (functional movement screening) would have a coach wondering how they haven’t been seriously injured playing their sports.

Most athletes at this age and ability level have had the exact same childhood these boys had: two or three sports a season since they were 5 (or younger) and non-stop skill work in these sports. What they never experienced or were taught is a movement foundation. They never developed the skills of squatting, hip hinging, pulling or pushing, let alone more advanced skills like stopping, starting, landing, jumping or cutting.

How can a high performing athlete be built on a non-existent foundation? The answer: They CAN’T!!! They will either break down (get injured) or hit a ceiling and never perform at the level they are capable.

Conclusion #1: We need movement quality because that will lead to strength and a solid foundation for performance gains.

However, that isn’t the only consideration our 12 year-old elite level athletes need. Most sport coaches never take the time to develop an understanding of the conditioning needs for their particular sport. And rarely will you find a coach who recognizes the need for a massive aerobic system. They instead see conditioning as a way to “weed out the weak.”

However, with a large aerobic base, an athlete can spend the majority of their contest using oxygen. When the anaerobic systems are needed, the aerobic base provides increased energy production so there is greater anaerobic endurance. Better anaerobic endurance=MORE POWER (little Tim the Tool Man Taylor there!)

To top it all off, the aerobic system has the greatest training potential. We can make athletes extremely well-conditioned by working solely on their aerobic systems, particularly with kids who are young, like our 12 years olds.

Tempo training teaches youth about their own range of motion, giving them the mental and physical foundation they'll use for the rest of their lives.

Conclusion #2: We need to incorporate aerobic system training into our athlete’s programs so they have a strong aerobic base and can push the limits of their anaerobic systems as their training age increases. 

So, can we accomplish both with one simple method of training? Since the title of this article is “Tempo Training for Young Athletes,” the answer is YES via tempo training. Tempo training focuses on the biggest bang for our buck exercises like RDLs, deadlifts, squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups and rows and sets them to a cadence.

We use three numbers in our cadence (although some coaches use four). If a sequence looked like this for a squat: 211, the exercise would consist of two counts on the “down” (eccentric), one count at the “bottom” (isometric), and one count on the way back up (concentric).

Each exercise differs depending on when the eccentric, isometric, and concentric portions occur, but we always sequence our numbers the same: eccentric/isometric/concentric. There are many ways to effectively use tempo training including: movement quality, time under tension, full range of motion explosiveness and sport specific power.

Movement Quality

Typically, we use tempo training in our young athlete’s first and possibly even their second program. By slowing the movement down, they get a chance to feel the pattern, ingrain it, and correct any minor issues while performing the exercise. This sets up great movement quality and big increases in core/hip control. Usually it only takes a few sessions of training like this to get a young athlete moving really well.

Time Under Tension (TUT)

Another facet of tempo training that we, as strength coaches, like is that our athletes can spend a lot of time under tension. When they come back after a hard tempo session, we ask them, “Where are you sore?” When they answer, “My butt and my hamstrings,” it is an immediate teaching opportunity.

They learn that an RDL or squat done correctly really taxes those muscles and if they gain strength in those areas, they can build a mid-section like a Mack truck! (Mike Robertson taught me the Mack truck line, which I use all the time)

Explosiveness through Full Range of Motion 

Most of our athletes walk in with explosiveness but only through shortened ranges of motion. That’s where the isometric part of tempo training plays an important role. When we get an athlete to statically hold a contraction for a second or two, their brain starts to understand that it is okay to put the muscle on a stretch.

Moreover, when properly stretched, that muscle fires back much faster than before. As a result, the brain (and thus, our athlete) allows greater range of motion (ROM) and the athlete may then become more explosive through that improved ROM.

Explosiveness is usually very high on the list of things athletes want to improve at any age, but particularly with young athletes involved in multiple sports. They never have an opportunity to get strong nor do they learn what it actually means to produce greater power.

Sport-Specific Power

When we program tempo-based training for power, we use an “X” in place of the last number in the sequence. For example, we had a number of younger athletes just transition into their fall sports. In their last training cycle, they were doing front squats and RDLs with a tempo of 21X, meaning they go down for two counts, pause for one count, and move as explosively as they can to the top.

After they internalize that explosiveness, we ask them to re-create the power using med balls or plyometric exercises. As they apply their newfound power, they feel and see their potential rise. When we get an athlete through our program and to their season using tempo training, we know they have gained weight room strength and translated that to power production in their respective sport.

Tempo training gives youth athletes the foundation to build on with skill training.

Now that we understand what can be done with tempo training, we need to discuss the programming guidelines associated including: where we optimally insert tempo work during their training year, how do we elicit different training effects with tempo work and how does training age affect our use of tempo work.

When To Do Tempo Training

I don’t think there is a wrong time to do tempo training, however there are given times in a training year where I think it is absolutely imperative. The most crucial time of year is post-season.

Whether an athlete comes back the day the season ends or takes two months off before returning, they are typically rusty due to the lack of focus on strength training late into a sport season. This is the perfect time to re-groove movement quality and set them up for huge gains in the off-season.

The second most crucial time to incorporate tempo training are those last phases of strength training leading into a sport season. We want to start adding some serious velocity and acceleration to the movements and can do so with properly programmed tempo work here.

Conditioning with Tempo Training

This is one of the cooler uses of tempo training that I have found. Instead of just using it to set up strength or power gains, we can use the same movements, change the cadence, and elicit some serious gains in aerobic conditioning, (particularly oxygenutilization).

We designate an exercise (such as RDLs or squats) with equal parts eccentric/concentric movement (i.e. “202” or “303”) for a designated period of time or reps. When our athletes perform this as their conditioning for 4-8 weeks, they will see marked improvement in their ability to maintain an aerobic state during high-intensity training.

Tempo training also increases slow twitch fiber density, which houses the big factories for lactate oxidation, allowing the anaerobic system to work longer before anaerobic threshold is reached.

Training Age and Tempo Training

I believe that tempo work can have the largest impact in situations where an athlete comes in at an extremely young training age. This does NOT mean their actual age but instead the amount of time they have been exposed to a quality strength program.

With the huge increase in sports being played year round and the best athletes coming to us with a training age of 0, tempo training can quickly advance the most novice strength athlete.

At the beginning of this summer, the three boys described previously definitely lacked training years. Each of them had multiple years of sport-based training under their belt, but a combined training age of maybe 1.5 years. We had them on a steady diet of goblet squats, RDLs, rows, and even push-ups for their first few programs with tempo assigned to help them gain movement quality.

Now they have graduated to the exercises they saw the high school boys doing at the beginning of the summer. They have developed into athletes I am proud to call F.I.T. Strong and have limitless potential to grow. Each boy moves through the weight room with the grace and strength expected of an elite-level athlete.

And it is all thanks to some simple tempo training. Look out for these boys in the coming years!

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared

About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.

Career Highlights

  • 2014 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year – Fitness Business Insiders
  • 2014 IYCA Coach of the Year Finalist
  • Volunteer Strength Coach for West Madison Boys Hockey and Westside Boys Lacrosse
  • Helped develop dozens of scholarship athletes in 3 years of business
  • Instructed Kinesiology Lab at UW-Madison
  • Houses an internship program at F.I.T. that started in 2013
  • Member of Elite Mastermind Group of Nationwide Fitness Business Owners


5 Lessons to Teach Young Athletes

Lessons to Teach Young Athletes

By Mike Robertson


The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, as I’ve been on the floor a bunch and coaching some really fun athletes.

As a result, I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve tried to teach my young athletes along the way. Each and every kid is a little bit different and has unique things they need to address to become the kind of athlete (or human being) we know they’re capable of.

Here are five lessons that I feel we as coaches should teach every young athlete we come in contact with.

Lesson #1: Recovery Is Critical

Think back to when you were a teenager.

Chances are you stayed up too late, did dumb things with your friends, and weren’t quite the upstanding individual you are now.

And that’s OK—that’s how we all learn and grow.

But as tough as we all had it, I would argue that today’s kids have it worse in a handful of ways than we did.

Sure, there are a lot of similarities such as school, athletics, and extracurricular activities, but I would argue there’s one big difference between then and now:

Kids today carry a tremendous burden when it comes to social pressures and expectations.

Yes we played sports, went to school, and did other stuff, but there’s never been the amount of pressure on our youth as there is today.

As such, we need to teach them the value of rest and recovery.

Instead of 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night, they should be getting at minimum 7 or 8.

We need to teach them that it’s OK to relax and unwind. Turn the cell phone, iPad, and laptop off for a while and just chill out. (I’m always shocked at how much more laid back and relaxed I am when I just unplug for a while).

And of course, eating to fuel your training is critical (more on this below).

The bottom line is that recovery is critical. If we’re going to be asked to perform at a high level in the classroom, on the field, and in everyday life, that’s fine, but there has to be a balance between performance and recovery.

Lesson #2: Nutrition Is Fuel

This goes hand in hand with my previous point, as nutrition is a huge component of recovery.

And I can’t give you a better example than a kid I used to work with called “Juice.”

Juice played basketball at the high school I worked at. He had a ton of energy and was always fun to be around, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend quite a bit of time chatting him up and joking around.

One day I show up to train the team at 3 pm, and Juice is telling me how tired he is.

Me: “What did you eat today?”

Juice: “Nothing, but I just had a Mountain Dew, so I’m cranked and ready for practice coach!”

Me: “No, seriously, what did you have for breakfast and lunch?”

Juice: “Nothing. I was late for school so I skipped breakfast, and then I had homework to do during lunch so I forgot to eat something.”

I wish this was a joke, but it wasn’t. This kid was going to lift weights and go to basketball practice, having only had a 20-ounce Mountain Dew the entire day.

Athletes can be all over the board with their nutrition, so it’s always a tightrope when getting them focused and dialed in. Some can eat anything and everything and get away with it, while others are far more focused on their body and physique than how food will fuel their performance.

Female athletes need even more time, attention, and care.

There are all kinds of social pressures and stresses when it comes to females and food, so if I have an inkling that a female athlete may have food issues, I’m quick to punt that situation to the appropriate professional.

Suffice it to say, though, we need to give our young athletes a basic understanding of why eating properly is important.

The best avenue I’ve always found was to remind your athletes that food is fuel. What you put into your body every meal is going to determine how well you play on the court or field.

Do you really think that Twinkie, candy bar, or Pop Tart is really going to improve your performance?

And rather than focusing on portion sizes and giving out “diets” (which is where you should lean on the expertise of a dietitian or similar professional), I like to discuss some of the nutritional basics with my athletes:

  • Get some lean protein at every meal.
  • Get a vegetable and/or fruit at every meal.
  • Carbs aren’t the devil, but they’re easy to over consume.
  • Ditto on fats, and we need goods fats in our diet.
  • Hydration is critical, so shoot for 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight daily.

If we can get our athletes following the basic nutritional tenets I’ve provided above, they’ll be in vastly superior shape compared to many of their peers.

Lesson #3: You Need a Strong Foundation

As strength coaches, this may be the greatest thing we can give our athletes.
If you work with middle school and high school age kids, this is arguably the single best time to come in contact with a kid. They’re incredibly malleable, whether we’re talking about mobility, stability, strength, etc.

But perhaps more importantly, they’re much more open-minded or “mentally malleable” than some of the older clients we come in contact with. They don’t have preconceived notions as to how much range of motion they should have, how strong they should be, etc., so there’s far less resistance when we introduce them to an exercise program.

At this age, we can give them an amazing movement foundation, and I would argue this should be the single biggest focus of our training.

It starts by having them play as many sports as possible while growing up. The proper term for this is long-term athletic development (LTAD), and it’s something we preach to our kids.

Stop it with the year-round sports, travel league teams, and all the other garbage that just makes people feel superior or awesome.

Nobody remembers when they’re in their 30s or 40s that they played on the U-7 travel team. But I guarantee they’ll remember if they ended up having a Tommy John surgery as a result!

In the gym, teach them the basics of movement. Teach them how to squat, lunge, hinge, push-up, row, chin, and enjoy the amazing body they were given.

In the beginning, it’s not even about load or performance; it’s about exploration and allowing them to feel what their body can do.

In fact if you follow the teachings of Professor Zatsiorsky, he’s a huge proponent of the three year rule:

No external loading for the first three years of an athlete’s development.

If nothing else, teach these kids to move really well, and then teach them to move weights, or to move for an extended period of time.

Remember, this is the body they will live in the rest of their lives. Our goal should be to give them a rock-solid foundation that will last them a lifetime.

Lesson #4: Learn How to Breathe

One of the big things we assess at IFAST is how a client breathes.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people these days breathe horribly. The only two places they can draw in air is by “pushing” it into their belly or “pulling” it into their neck by using accessory muscles like the scalenes and SCM.

Not only does this lead to performance issues on the field/court, but it can drive physiological issues off the field. Whether it’s increased anxiety and stress, trouble falling asleep, or issues staying asleep, breathing is something we need to address.

If you follow the R7 approach that we do here at IFAST, we put a premium on quality breathing. Not only will clients get to work on this during their warmup, but perhaps even more importantly, they will also work on it at the conclusion of their workout.

Even if you’ve never done this, have your athletes lie on their back at the end of a session with their knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Tell them to breathe in through their nose, take approximately 5 seconds to get the air in.

Follow that up with a complete exhale through the mouth, which should take about 10 seconds.

Finish by holding that fully exhaled position for 3-5 seconds, and then repeat for 8-10 breaths.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but teaching a young athlete to breathe is just as foundational as good movement. Not only can they see performance improvements on the field, but chances are they’ll be less stressed out and anxious off it as well.

Lesson #5: The Weight Room Is a Classroom

The final thing I love to teach my young athletes is that the weight room (and especially my weight room) is a classroom.

At the risk of sounding hokey, it’s a classroom, and the class I’m teaching is L-I-F-E.

If you are serious and committed to improve your body and your performance, just think about all the lessons you can learn about:

Work ethic.



Goal setting.


The list of positive traits goes on and on.

And when an athlete comes into my weight room, I always have two things in the back of my mind.

Firstly, I always want the kids who train with me to have fun. This shouldn’t be another thing they have to do; I want this to be something that want to do.

Secondly, I always want the kids I train to look at me as a role model, or someone they can look up to and trust. I don’t consider myself to be perfect or beyond reproach, but I’m always thinking about carrying myself with a high level of character and self-respect.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re a pretty upstanding and legit person. Kudos to you.

But when I look around, not all the kids we come in contact with have a stable social foundation.

These kids need strong and stable individuals who they can look up to and trust, so that they can in turn become better people.

It frustrates me to no end when people talk poorly about young people. Sure, there are always going to be some bad seeds. Growing up, I know I had some bad appples around me.

But throwing this generation as a whole under the bus is a massive cop out.

Rather than simply saying, “These kids don’t get it,” or bitching about how entitled today’s youth is, I think it’s far more beneficial to take a long, hard look in the mirror and consider what we can do to help these kids become the kind of young adults we know they can be.

Take the time to nurture your young athletes both physically and psychologically.

Put them in a positive environment, give them solid footing, and allow them to have some success.

And don’t forget to show them how powerful the weight room can be. I can tell you without a doubt I wouldn’t be the husband, father, business owner or athlete I am today without the lessons I’ve learned in the weight room.


I consider myself to be incredibly lucky. Over the years, I’ve gotten to work with thousands of athletes, and I hope that I’ve successfully passed on some of the knowledge that I’ve picked up along the way.

If you work with young athletes, or if you have young athletes in your home, take this post to heart. Maybe pass it along to someone else you think could benefit from my message.

And most importantly, remember how powerful we are in the lives of today’s youth. Every single day we can make a difference, so do your best to make it a positive one.

All the best,

Want more free content to help you be a better coach?

Watch this free video from Wil Fleming on the 5 Factors of Athleticism and learn how to help your athletes go from good to great.

5 Factors of Athleticism

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Youth Athletes and Sports Injuries


Youth Athletes and Sports Injuries

Youth Athletes

By Clyde Mealy

The demands on today’s youth athletes are higher than ever. More youths are practicing longer and more frequently with fewer days in between to recover.

What is the cost of competition? According to Current Sports Medicine in 2008, reports that an estimated 45 million children and adolescents participated in organized sports in the United States alone. The question is how many are being properly trained and supervised. Nowadays, there is no true off-season to rejuvenate and have some fun or to play other sports just because… School athletics are followed by open or recreation league play that continues sometimes into the next season.

The bigger picture here is setting these youth athletes up for severe overuse injuries.


The most common for overuse is the shoulder joint for baseball players. The shoulder is the most moveable and most easily injured joint on the human body. Moreover, the elbow is another joint involved in overuse or repetitive movements. Medial Apophysitis (Little Leaguer’s Elbow), Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow are becoming more common in youth athletes. These conditions are especially serious in youth athletes because they are smaller, weaker and still growing. A family physician or sports specialist with a nonsurgical treatment as the goal if diagnosed early should examine any lingering symptoms.

Research conducted in 2000 revealed females had a 25% greater chance of an ankle injury over males. According to NASM, the sports commonly associated with ankle sprains are basketball, soccer and volleyball. It has been estimated that 80,000 – 150,000 ACL injuries occur each year. The Prime age group is 15-24 but more injuries are reported in youth athletes ages 10-14. Girls have five times the risk for an ACL injury than boys. Dr. Labella contributes this risk to poor neuromuscular control of knee motion during athletic tasks like landing from a jump, cutting or stopping. The importance here is the position of the knee (valgus) which places additional stress on the foot/ankle complex, the meniscus and the hip/low-back. If left unchecked, this can lead to an ankle sprain that can contribute to reduced participation of the gluteal muscles. Meniscus grinding can occur in the knee along with ligament damage due to weakness. If surgical repair is needed, this can lead to a life-changing event of how sports is viewed and played in the future. Osteoarthritis is a possibility along with other surgeries in the future.

According to Dr. Faigenbaum, to reduce the risk of sports-specific injuries in youth athletes like ankle and knee dysfunctions we should start with education and instruction. This should include a mastery of basic movements, exercise variation, proper progressive exercises and structured recovery. Veigel suggests rule changes in sports like baseball (pitch-counts) and hockey (checking) along with improved safety equipment and conditioning programs.

Overall, many youth athletes sports-related injuries can be avoided by properly preparing them for activity. Playing a contact sport like football or hockey will incur some minor sprains and strains as long as the proper equipment is worn and the game is played accordingly. Teaching today’s youth the fundamentals of their chosen sport can go a long way in how youth play the game they enjoy. It is our responsibility as fitness professionals to reinforce good habits and sportsmanship on and off the playing field.

As a trainer and volunteer coach, I prepare all my youth athletes with the proper warm-up of dynamic stretching, light cardio, core and balance training, concentric and eccentric training using resistance/weights, plyometrics, and bodyweight exercises/drills, and a cool-down with static stretching or yoga.

Injury prevention is my top priority. Especially for my female Youth Athletes, I work on foot/ankle and knee mechanics to activate the proper muscle groups (gluteals) to reduce injuries. Improved sports performance is the by-product of a properly trained and supervised youth athlete. In addition, structured recovery includes nutrition, hydration and supplements when appropriate and recommended by a healthcare professional like a family physician and or Registered Dietician. As the other experts suggested, education and instruction is the key to reduce injuries in today’s active youth.


Labella, C., & Carl, R. (2010). Preventing knee ligament injuries in young athletes. Pediatric Annals, 39(11), 714-720. doi:10.3928/00904481-20101013-10

Myer, G. D., Faigenbaum, A. D., Ford, K. R., Best, T. M., Bergeron, M. F., & Hewett, T. E. (2011). When to Initiate Integrative Neuromuscular Training to Reduce Sports-Related Injuries and Enhance Health in Youth?. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 10(3), 157-166.

Veigel, J. D., & Pleacher, M. D. (2008). Injury Prevention in Youth Sports. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 7(6), 348-352.

NASM Essentials of Performance Enhancement, 2007


4 Levels of Youth Sports Training Business


Youth Sports Training Business Success

Youth sports training business success


By Ryan Ketchum


Training youth athletes can be hard.

It might be one of the most enjoyable experiences in all of coaching, but it can be difficult to gain traction in your community if you have no previous relationships with coaches or sports organizations. The toughest part, much like any other aspect of business, is getting started. Once you have a little momentum behind you all it takes is consistency to grow your youth sports training business at an incredible rate.


For some reason it has taken me a few years to figure out just how easy and simple building your youth sports performance business can be if you follow the right steps.


Over the past several months I have implemented this system into our business with great success. It is almost scary how easy it is to follow and how quickly it can have an effect on your bottom line.


The greatest part of this system is that it doesn’t require you to be great at marketing or selling. I modified this system so that any coach can sell with the experience of their coaching and the results that come because of their great coaching. All you have to do to make this work is be consistent and dependable.


The first level of building an incredible youth sports training performance business is leveraging your network to build relationships with coaches, parents and leaders of youth sports organizations. You should focus on an area that you already have traction in and put all of your energy into it. If you aren’t sure where you might have traction I suggest you focus on middle school or younger athletes and female athletes. Stay away from football unless you are established or have some great connections. Building relationships is easier than most people think, but it requires you to step out of your comfort zone. For a little while you have to take a back seat to being the expert and ask for advice. Call up coaches, parents and organizational leaders and ask their advice on what they see a need for in their sports training. Take them to lunch, grab coffee and don’t step on their toes!


Once you have established a relationship and secretly found out what the biggest need in that sports community is (that is why you asked for advice earlier) you can offer a solution. The next step is offering a free clinic to help the coach or organization’s athletes better prepare for their sport. This clinic should be catered to meet the needs that were unveiled by those in your network.


To make this clinic extra successful you should have as much done for you material as possible. Write the emails for the coach, set up times that are convenient for the entire team, create the fliers and deliver the copies, etc. The easier you can make it on the coach or those in charge the more likely it is that you will get access to a lot of athletes.


When selling this free clinic idea to a coach you must explain how it will help them. How is this going to make their life easier and their athletes better? How can they use this in their practices and training?


Once you have established a date and set up the clinic your only job is to show up and be ready to wow the parents, coaches and athletes with your knowledge and coaching ability. Connect with the kids, make it fun and give them what they want. If you can show immediate results and improvement with the kids speed, agility or strength you will have won them over.


At the end of this free clinic it is time to move onto the third level. We must speak the language that coaches and parents are used to hearing, we have to do the unspeakable when talking about long term athletic development, we must offer a short term sport specific and skill specific academy!!!!


You might be wondering why we would offer a short term program if we have already won these athletes and their parents over?


The reason you offer a 6-8 week program to start is because that is what they are conditioned to believe will produce the best results. Create an offering that will help get them prepared for the season or improve a specific skill. The goal for the 6-8 week program is to educate them on the long term athletic development model and continue to build a relationship with the athletes and those in charge.


You can offer this program on site at the team’s location or at your own location. Many times it is easier to take the athletes off site to your location. We have got the athletes in our funnel now and we should do our best to move them into our long term training programs.


This 6-8 week program should be low cost, with a specific purpose. Our goal here is not to make a lot of money, but rather to gain the confidence of the athletes and the community. It is a great way to “slow cook” your leads and earn their trust. This works particularly well if you are new in the sports performance community.


Towards the end of the 6-8 week program you will now attempt to move these athletes on to level 4. This is your long term development program, your core offerings and strength and conditioning program. After 6-8 weeks of education and a phenomenal experience it should be an easy sell to get them into your programs so that they can continue their athletic development with you.


The key to transitioning these athletes from the short term to long term program is understanding their needs at the time of the conversion. If they are going in season it would be silly to recommend a three time per week training program, however you could offer a one-time per week program to ensure they maintain their results and continue to make progress so that come playoff time they are in the best condition. If they are going into an off season you will want to make the most appealing offer, which is a complete off season solution for them.


To recap here are the 4 levels of youth sports training business success:

Build and develop relationships


Set up FREE Clinics


Convert into low cost short term programs with specific training focus


Convert into long term development program


If you follow these simple steps you will have no problem becoming the go-to resource for athletic development and youth sports performance training in your community.



youth sports training business success


Training for Power: The Top 5 Exercises for Athletes to Dominate the Game


Training for Power with Young Athletes


Young Athletes hang position


By Wil Fleming


My young athletes are known for explosive power, from middle school volleyball players to football players preparing for the combine all of them out class the competition when it comes to quick bursts of power.  Recently I put together a presentation outlining my favorite exercises to do just that.  I have shared a brief outline of the topics covered in that seminar in the list below.


1. Hang Clean and Snatch-


You will notice that I did not say the Power Clean or Power Snatch.  Power cleans are the staple of most training programs, but the key is by doing this movement from the hang position i.e. with the bar just above your knees.  This position is much closer to ones athletes actually use in athetics and athletes have a much greater potential for technically sound lifts.

The snatch must be included because it is such a powerful movement as well and can lend diversity to the program.


2. CHAOS agility drills

Much of the need for power in football comes in the reaction to a movement of the ball or of the defensive player, because of this football players must also have the mental awareness to make explosive movements as a reaction. Credit Coach Robert Dos Remedios for this one, but my favorite training tool for this are CHAOS agility drills (it stands for Conscious to unconscious Have unpredictability Active to Reactive Open drills Slow to Fast). The idea behind it is to have athletes mirror one another in specific patterns first and then to open ended drills with many different movement patterns, more closely replicating the actions of actual game play.


3. Kettlebell Swings

This is a foundation movement for any athlete looking to develop more power. The action in the kettlebell swing is founded on the idea of a hip hinge, this is important because most athletes need to gain better control of the ability to hinge at the hips.  Most athletes are very much Quad dominant and are losing out on the potential of their backside. The Kettlebell Swing does a great job of teaching these motions effectively.


4. MB Throws

Using medicine balls in throwing motions (chest pass, Side throws, Throws for distance) is a great way to develop power in the upperbody for young athletes while incorporating the important parts of hang cleans, hang snatches, and Kettlebell swings (hip hinging).  Delivering a Medicine ball with force is a great way to engage the core in explosive activities as well, generating force with the lower body must require active core control to deliver the ball with the arms, This transfer of power is important to all sports.


5. Plyometrics

Athletes need to be adept at accelerating and decelerating their own body at maximum speeds. Plyometrics are the first way that athletes can learn to do so.  Maximal jumps with a stuck landing will help athletes develop resistance to injury and will simulate many movements in sport.



There is a lot more than just power that goes into becoming athlete. It takes general strength, resistance to injury, proper conditioning and a well prepared mind.


Focusing on power will take athletes a long way towards getting to where they want to be.




Coaching Young Athletes Back in The Trenches: Part 1


Coaching Young Athletes – Teaching Again

The funniest thing happened 3 weeks ago…


I decided to go back to the grassroots of where I started

Insert/edit linkCoaching Young Athletes



Now make no mistake, although my ‘full time’ coaching days are about 7 years in the rearview mirror, I’ve maintained a coaching schedule through the entire thick and thin of both developing and running the IYCA.


I’ve worked with volleyball clubs, high school football, soccer, track and baseball teams and even moonlighted occasionally as a guest speed and agility instructor for local youth sporting associations.


But this summer, I’m heading back to the trenches.



I met a very young (23), ambitious and capable Coach who owns his own facility not more than 15 minutes from my house – we started chatting and 3 weeks ago, I agreed to take a position as a ‘Coach’ at his up and coming training center.


No pay.


This time, ‘In the Trenches’ is because I love it, feel obligated (in a good way) to give back and don’t need the money in order to pay my bills.


So the summer of 2011 for me, will be back doing what I love most every day:


Making young athletes better people.


Job #1 has been to review this facility’s current training system and attend live sessions as an observer.


To see if there are holes.


To understand what is expected of the athletes and staff in this facility.


To appreciate what will be expected of me.


My first inspected conclusion was simple… For a 23 year old Coach, this guy has got his stuff together very well!


In fact, the experience of ‘watching to determine’ got me thinking that I should chronicle to you what this 23 year old does so well… Because most of it is inherent to his personality and not something he’s learned from a textbook, conference or DVD.


So consider these heartily as potential inclusions for yourself and your own coaching young athletes habits…


(1) Specific Instruction Time


Although not IYCA certified when we met, this particular 23 year already understood, embraced and implemented perhaps the most critical of all IYCA Tenants:


Don’t Train… Teach.


By simply feelings his way through the coaching process, this young man knew instinctively that young athletes are ‘works in progress’ and that the urge to ‘make tired through hard work’ must be tempered by the undeniable need to teach proper execution.


His facility is not ‘numbers’ oriented.


He does not appease the symptomotolgy requirements for what most consider the hallmarks of quality training with respect to young people (breathless, sweaty, can’t walk the next day).


Every one of his training sessions is methodical in the way he teaches complexity through simplicity, prior to implementing an exercise into a given routine.


I’ve been very heartened watching this and believe fully that more Coaches need to take an honest look at there programming methods with respect to proper instruction.


Come back tomorrow for ‘Part 2’…


Everything I Learned in 15 Years In the Trenches… Working With More Than 20,000 Young Athletes:


Click Here: http://completeathletedevelopment.com/


– Brian


Coaching Young Athletes


Sport Specific Youth Training: Part 1


Insert/edit linkYouth Training

For Sports

As a given sport evolves and the participants within that sport begin to break records and perform what was once considered impossible, you can be sure that advancements in training and conditioning regimes have occurred within that sport. Very few athletes ever become great sport technicians without the inclusion of a comprehensive athletic development and conditioning program as part of their training package. Over the past decade, the type of training and conditioning performed by young, developing and elite athletes has gone from basic fitness to more functionally- based and developmental activities. Figure skating and all of the disciplines under that umbrella are such examples.


Youth Training


For example, many training coaches prescribe that their skaters practice landing jumps and performing balance based skills (such as spirals) off the ice. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the ‘athletic developers’ who tend not to concern themselves with producing specified strength gains but instead work more directly at improving the complete athletic profile of the skater. The general conception among these professionals is that the greater degree of athleticism the skater has, the more likely he or she will be able to carry out athletic skills. While traditionalists often incorporate basic and conventional exercises into their training programs, the athletic developers come from a more movement based perspective. This style of conditioning is often referred to as ‘functional’ training, which is in fact a misnomer. Let’s examine that.



Youth Sports Training Technique: Part 2


Group One, Group Two & Group Three youth sports training classifications… But what else?


Here’s Part 2:


How efficiently an athlete learns the technical skills of a sport, strength training exercise or movement is determined by several variables –


Age – Complex skills are often understood and comprehended better by more mature athletes (although individual exceptions certainly apply).


Emotional State – Relaxed and easy-going athletes tend to learn and reproduce new skills better than athletes who are uptight and self-critical.


Motivation (more…)

Youth Fitness Business: Training Adults is More Difficult – Part 2

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More Reasons why choose a Youth Fitness business


youth fitness business

2.) Sedentary Lifestyle – Most adults that work are inactive due to desk jobs, laziness, or boredom. Unlike youngsters involved in scholastic sports, there is no structure involving financial accountability and job performance. Youth athletes benefit from a different kind of structure. They follow a routine consisting of academia, social thrivers, and sport. So if the expectation is not there, don’t expect adults to get off their couch to do something unless that are forced to.


I think I’d be splitting hairs to disagree with this point outright, but it should be noted that most teenagers also sit in desks some 5 – 6 hours per day and compound that issue with homework and TV/video game play in the evening. Professionals who don’t work with young people regularly may be quite surprised to find out how sedentary many young athletes truly are outside of their competitive season.


Having said that, I absolutely understand John’s point about sedentary lifestyles and expectations, but to a degree that point could be flipped by suggesting that adults have more incentive to ‘get fit’ due to their advancing age and sense of mortality. I’ve never met a teenager who felt concerned about their health with respect to inactivity – kids, by in large, feel themselves to be ‘bulletproof’ which can make for creating an incentive to become active very difficult.



Kettlebell Training for Youth Athletes




Youth Athletes With Kettlebells

by Pamela MacElree of www.KettlebellAthletics.com


Kettlebell training for kids and youth athletes

There really are hundreds of ways to train youth athletes, all the way from traditional weight lifting to strongman training, and everywhere in between.  Some programs focus strictly on gaining mass, some focus entirely on sport specific practice, some can’t get enough speed and agility, and others have no real basis at all.  Implementing kettlebell training into a youth training program has a variety of complimentary benefits to existing programs.



Fundamental To Sport Specific Training for Young Athletes



Young Athletes and Sports Training

Spida Hunter is a one-of-a-kind trainer from New Zealand. He has worked with participants of all ages and abilities. I thought that you might all enjoy a glimpse into how things are done with young athletes on the other side of the world!


IYCA: What’s your background in youth sports and athletics? Have you worked with young athletes?


SH: I don’t specialize in youth sports or athletics however I do train young aspiring athletes that are looking to produce the best results and performance that they can achieve. I have worked with puberty (and post puberty) athletes which is a very influential age and a very important age not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well! I will also be training a 1st XV high school rugby team next season.


IYCA: 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 them against that kind of training?


SH: I used to get very frustrated with the mentality of; this is what they do so you can too! However other then a selected few I truly believe now, is that parents, coaches and unfortunately trainers are actually doing what they believe is the best thing for the young athlete. This is what they know so this is what they hand down I do not believe that a parent, coach, trainer would purposely harm a child through training but unfortunately this is what they do when they treat the child as a "little adult"!



Flexibility Training for Young Athletes




Chris Blake gives answer some common questions about flexibility training for young athletes


What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?
Flexibility can have two definitions:

1.) The ability of muscle to lengthen during passive movements.

2.) Range of motion about a joint and surrounding musculature during passive movements.


Mobility can also have two ways of being defined. The main definition is the state of being in motion. But this state of motion can be looked at within certain joints (subtalar mobility) or as a physical whole (moving from one position into the next during a run).


Are both important to young athletes or is one more important than the other?
This is a great question. Both are important for the older athlete (ages 14-18+) as athletes within this age group tend to show more restrictions with both flexibility and mobility, often times once you take care of the flexibility then you improve mobility. But with the younger athlete (ages 13 and under) I wouldn’t place much importance on either one unless there has been a certain injury that limits each.


Are there different kinds of Flexibility, or is ‘bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy’ what all young athletes should be doing?
There are seven different ways of going about flexibility: