The Biggest Problem in Youth Sports Training?




Youth Sports Training Mistakes

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 and Objective Monster


No one can learn how to create 6 or 12 month Youth Sports Training 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.


Action Steps


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 1 month’s time? 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 course of 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 the Youth Sports Training 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.


Interested in learning how to create long term training programs for
young athletes? Click Here and find out how


10 Responses

  1. Martin Roy says:

    I am a professor in a french canadian university in human kinetics. I have read many of your texts and statements. I strongly agree with many of them.

    Would you allow me to present a few of your statements during my classes on Powerpoint format? These statements would be included in the course notebook. You will always be refered to as following :

    « statement »
    – Grasso (2009)

    Thanks for your collaboration,

    Best regards,

    Martin Roy

  2. Wil says:

    Brian, a very timely post for me… I’m realizing the depth of this reality in my life & business right now. Thanks!

  3. Ken Vick says:

    Really important concept Brian! Al’s comment is key. The only way to make this work is to get the parents, coaches and athletes to invest in it mentally and emotionally. I have been fortunate to actually get to coach athletes as they were in high school and guide them all the way to the pros and world championships in different sports. Its critical to all of our young athletes to have this mindset as coaches. We all need to educate the masses and get them to buy in. It makes all the difference in the long run.

  4. ERIC says:

    Many Coaches in my sport and relating to youth, do not plan, do not structure or plan to the extent that you indicate. Part of the fault lies within the coaching award systems, once they have achieved L1(which is very difficult to fail)they think they are international coaches, stop learning and dont really consider player development only interested in Win Loss ratio.

  5. Richard says:

    The critical path method would work well in youth training as it was developed (by NASA I think) to allow for unknown things such as when data is going to be available. I shows the goals and steps but is flexible.
    I still think that the biggest problem with youth sports is that to play at a high level, as you get older you have to choose whitch sports to give up, to play the others at a level you want to play. This does not effect mid level atheletic talent as early as top talent, but it would be hard to play 4-5 sports a year and be commpetitive enough to make a high school team. Better club teams want commitment. Soccer is all year, a player may be able to keep 1 more sport. Baseball takes all spring and summer. Some little leauge age programs, if not most, want a 55-60 game schedule in the summer. Track conflicts with soccer, baseball and even basketball when the indoor season is in play.
    It would have been nice to see my son not have to give up baseball at 11 so he could continue with track, soccer and basketball. He is a sophmore now and it is down to track and soccer, there are still conflicts. To play at a high level, they need to make choices. This is not the best of all worlds and I am sure he would have developed different and broader skillset if he did not want to play at his level.

  6. Liz Donnelly says:


    This is a timely post for me as I contemplate my program design for my summer general fitness class. I won’t know what the condition of my kids will be before they walk in the door, so I am going to make things very simple and general goal-wise.

    I also don’t know if the kids will stay for all three two-week sessions.

    After-school fitness is also part of the game for me, so I am very excited to think more long-term on this one.

    Thanks for the reminder to plan!!

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

  7. Brad Chapman says:

    The biggest problem we are have right now. Is getting people to come to the free seminars. Please comment on this phenomena in Utah.

  8. Joanne says:

    How do I incorporate this advice when I only have the kids for 2 weeks at a time, 3 sessions per week, 4 times per year. The kids I train are doing multiple sports (good) but therefore already plan or train every night of the week during the school term (we have 4 terms) I only get to run my program during the 2 week breaks-any ideas??


  9. Krich Li says:

    Yes, this true vision of a problem, but I wish to add the opinion. It is necessary to consider key competitions in a current of a season and to build the plan, to be in the best condition during this period. That is two plans. The plan for development of skills and the plan of intensity of training and rest also.

  10. admin says:

    Martin – that would be absolutely fine!

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