Training Young Athletes: Concept vs. Cool


Training Young Athletes: exactly what the IYCA is all about.

Specifically related to our Concepts when training young athletes long-term development.


There are certain core values as it relates to training young athletes and people that we disclose within our ‘Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1’ certification course, and you either need to hear them or hear them again…


These centralized principles extend to the entire litany of IYCA material, at large.



(1) Concept vs Cool


We are not about prescribing exercises that are ‘neat’, ‘new’ or ‘nifty’ just for the sake of doing so. Central to the theme of our “Long-Term Development Model” is the reality that the organism in front of you is vastly more important than the degree of exercise difficulty you opt to stimulate that organism with.


We are not trying to be ‘cool’.


We will not flood your sightlines with the latest gimmick or circus trick that you can/should perform on a BOSU Ball.


And we will never deviate from the human growth and development realities that govern what type of exercise stimulus is required or when that requirement exists.


a) Guided Discovery (6 – 9)

  • Outcome-Based coaching must be central. Do not criticize for improper attempts or cajole to make them more mechanically accurate. The purpose of this phase of developmental fitness is to DISCOVER. Children who are over-coached through this time frame will not develop the requisite, self-created skill sets to amass higher levels of athletic proficiency later in life. 
  • In conjunction with the above point, think of classes, sessions or lessons within this age group as both experimental and experiential. Create a game, demonstrate the skill set of how to execute and then let them play; allowing them to experiment with auto-correction and experience the movement art of performing things incorrectly. Thus the term “Outcome-Based” – the fact the kids are moving and following your loose instructions is enough. 
  • Neural warehousing is the critical reality. In addition to experimental and experiential, exercise stimulus within this time period must be fun and incredibly diverse. Imagine what kind of student you’d have if you removed English, Art, History and Geography from an academic calendar in order to concentrate solely on Mathematics. In the short term, math skills and adherence would soar; in the long term, the lack of warehoused, general intelligence would be prohibitive in a given student developing advanced proficiency in math. In development fitness, just like academics, all things are progressive and incredibly congruous. 
  • Exercise stimulus = Run, Jump, Skip, March, Hop, Crawl, Climb, Throw, Kick 


Come back tomorrow and read about how to train High School Athletes…


– Brian


P.S. – The Foundation Principles of the IYCA have been created for a reason.


You can read more about them here: https://iyca.org/products/yfs1


7 Responses

  1. Jagdish says:

    Fantastic article.

  2. Brenda says:

    Amen to what you are saying, Brian. So many get caught up in the latest gimick or “cool” thing. Keep doing what you’re doing and teaching.

  3. John Arnold says:

    I think we are getting crazy with “Training” our youngsters. 6-9 year olds need to put down the controllers and get outside. They need to run and jump. Go into the woods and make forts jump in creeks and just have fun. We used to make bike trails and race through the woods. We need to all lighten up! This was way before BMX. We were doing this on Schwinn Stingrays with Banana Seats and High Handle Bars. Kids need to crash and break bones. This is what growing up is all about. Now we have have to have structured programs to teach them movement skills. We also are in hysteria about leaving our kids outside as the media has lead us to believe that there are predators after our kids everywhere. I think it is all a crock. Granted structured program probably work for their physical capabilities but mentally I think this leads to burnout. Parents need to stop thinking that if they don’t spend thousands a year on this stuff their kids will not be good athletes. While Coaching youth football I had parents who think that if you don’t put the kid where they project him it will kill his development. How many Pro’s ever actually are playing the same positions as they did young. Guarantee most are not. Calm down and your child will tell you where he will want to go with this. By the way Pubescents changes everything. A kid that was a stud young will fade and kids that you thought would never make it do.

  4. John Arnold says:

    Get rid of Video games and for God Sakes do not let them have cell phones till they are in Highschool. Adding to I wrote prior. My parents used to yell as us to come inside. I had to yell at my kids to go outside. The reason why we have structured programs is not for the kids they are a must for the parents to make sure kids get exercise. This is because when they are home all kids (Mostly boys) sit on their asses and play video games. Why are our kids Obese? Video games! If they leave the house their is no food either. While sitting there in gaming they eat. This is your fault parents letting the XBox be your baby sitter. The other is that you are also to lazy to prepare food at home. Eating out and out of a can or a box is will lead to obese and shorten lives. Period! Why are most intercity kids better athletes? The do not have the Suburban money for an XBox.

  5. Anon says:

    I don’t know, my instinct on the pure guided discovery is that for high skill sports – tennis, soccer, probably baseball, this path likely eliminates the possibility of being really good. I like the path, its better for kids, but if the kid doesn’t have any of the technique of catching a ball or batting down by age 10, I don’t see them having a shot at, say D-I college ball.

    Now if you are talking about really detailed technical advice, I agree. But telling them basics like bending their knees and swinging level, that’s important just to get them good enough so that they enjoy hitting and playing.

  6. John Arnold says:

    One more thing. I also train kids in speed camps and so forth. Why on earth would Plyo Metrics be bad for 6-9 year olds. Most kids try to jump from the highest things they can find. If Plyos are bad at this age then we need to keep them from taking 2 steps at time down stairs. (Most kids jump the whole set.) Keep them from jumping out of trees or off of anything. No diving boards. This is another contradiction when it comes to training kids. In fact I think it is less likely Plyos will cause any injury for young kids. Now if they are Obese that is another thing but that goes for anyone that is Obese and we millions now more than ever. Most likely we do not want to embarrass the fat kids in the PE classes today. That would discrimination if you geared your program towards only those that can perform these movements. Would not doubt this one will be coming. Parents sue schools for to strenuous PE because they have destroyed their kids ability and ?

  7. Theo says:

    Thanks Brian great stuff. Just to add a few points :-
    Hi John 🙂 Plyos for kids are dangerous because of the repetative nature of how they are set up, but running a cross country type course with some things to jump over, or games they have to jump over things in is fine. My kids (48 aspiring rugby players) jump over tackle bags, each other and anything else that fits the game i want them to play. 20 sets of 20 plyo jumps bad, 20 jumps in a 10 minute game good 😀
    To Anon (point 5) Guided discovery is just what you said, let the kids play and give a quick pointer on the basics and positive feedback. So I got 48 kids i got to teach to kick as well as all the other complexities of playing one of the most technically demanding, physically challenging games in the world. Some will never be kickers, some are amazing and really dont need to be coached apart from the small details. Set up a kicking game, have the coaches walk around and just give one or two key pointers for the day. Thats it. No 1 child coached while 47 others watch. No confusing detail. When they get older they will need more detail, but even then, you can ask them to focus on one aspect of their kicking within the game and feedback positively to them. You were absolutely right!
    Finally a personal mission is to get kids playing many sports. My son does judo (1 hour per wk), rugby (2 hours a week), tennis (1 hour a week), swimming (1 hour a week) and soccer (whenever he plays with his friends and in the yard). Over the last 5 years more kids in the squad (and their parents) are doing this. The difference is phenominal.
    Thanks Brian, your team are inspirational.

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