Training Young Athletes: Exposed!



Training Young Athletes

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richolmes –


Training Young Athletes

OK, S&C training has begun. We are talking about boys aged 12-18, about 40 turned up. We kicked things off with a 3 mile steady state cross country run. I was tasked, by the Head Coach, with looking after a 14 year old who would be considered morbidly obese. I was trying to help him keep pace with pack but he just couldn’t do it, the run became more run, walk, run, walk. After about 1/2 a mile we had lost sight of the pack and were lost. After much foraging we eventually caught up as after each mile the boys had to do steep hill reps. We did just the one rep and continued with the pack.


The pack got away a second time but this time we could not find them! We returned to base after completing about 2-2 1/2 miles.


Given his state; low motivation, low skill i gave him a steady stream of positive support throughout. The boys give him a tonne of vocal support around the route, doesn’t quite fit your model Brian i know. But we did not have the satisfaction of completing the route. Had we known where we were going, it was a new route, we would have done because he is far from lacking in heart, it just takes longer. In fact over the last 2 years, the club has given him, a victim of bullying at school, confidence he never had.


Ladies/Gentleman, I would appreciated your comments on how to proceed with this boy.

Dr. Kwame Brown –


My first question:


\Why are we starting conditioning with a 3 mile run, instead of skill work? What is the justification.


With regard to encouraging this young man: Is it working? It seems he is happier now than he was. This is what we mean by art of coaching. We are exposing you guys to factors and potential consequences of actions during the certs. It is up to you to keep all this in mind, but while reading the situation you’re in. If our "guidelines" make you rigid and unyielding in those guidelines, we have failed in our jobs as educators.

richolmes –


My sincere apologies, in rushing my original email out, hectic lifestyle and all, i neglected to mention a few crucial points:


1.) As excited as I am about IYCA principles i am still the "assistant" S&C coach. Which is to say the programme bears no resemblance to IYCA principles as the Head Coach designed it in isolation, without my consultation. The 3 mile run was supposed to be a steady state run but i guess testerone took over and it was turned into a bit of a "beasting" with steep hill shuttle reps/push ups mixed in.


2.) As it stands i will not be able to exalt IYCA principles, other than in how i treat the boys, until January at the earliest and maybe not until September when i am due to become Head Coach.


3.) The Head Coach is an Army PT with fairly strong views on S&C, it’s his profession and passion i guess, so i am planting seeds for the future with him, management and parents.


Is it working? I left him happy with his efforts but the Head Coach expected him to complete the whole 3 mile course. More to the point he expected me to get him round the course! As i left i could see the sadness in his face after talking to the Head Coach.


For these reasons I am finding this all a bit challenging. The last thing i need is for you to get impression that the IYCA’s name is being taken in vein. Frankly, none of what the IYCA stands for is being practiced other than in how i deal with the boys. The revolution is only just beginning and it’s low key…for now!


Dr. Kwame Brown –


No worries! Maybe spend this time cataloguing all of this kind of stuff. Keep a journal of what is / isn’t working and why. Include what changes you might make when you take over. he may do some things that are great, don’t discount that possibility either. Take what works and what is in keeping with developmental principles, and discard the rest.


Keep in mind also that these principles were in existence before our organization. Don’t worry about "offending us". We are here to help you implement what YOU need to.


In due time, my friend.

David Kittner –


Congratulations on your upcoming head coach position. That’s pretty awesome. It’s great that the boy has you looking out for him. I feel for him and happy to know that you were there to help him get through it all. Way to go! Learn as much as you can, both the good and not so good. You’ll quickly learn what is working and what is not (emotionally and mentally speaking based on how the boys respond) and then you’ll be able to apply what you learned when you become Head Coach. I believe this experience will make you a better coach in the long run and that’s a great thing!

Liz D –


Wow, Rick, it seems you are in a bind, but they are lucky to have you as the assistant coach! Obviously you see that you’re planting seeds now and, perhaps, the head coach will observe your nurturing relationship as a benefit to the team. Although you don’t have any power over the training format, you have shown that you are a supportive coach. The kids will ultimately see this for what it is and develop a lot of respect for you.


I see coaching as very similar to parenting: as you grow to understand each other, and especially as you explain yourself to the athletes/kids, they will be open to you and learn from you. For instance, when I take the time to explain to my kids why too much candy is bad for their bodies, then they don’t argue. They understand and move on to the next topic. It works better than saying, "No, you can’t have candy because I said so."


I’m sure you already know this.


If the head coach is hard to please, rigid and demanding, then the kids will not have the same affection for him. (I don’t want to pit a you vs. him thing, mind you.) What a great way to build that foundation until you assume your position next year!


You are heading in the right direction. The boy will see that you are far more approachable and willing to work with him.


Hang in there when Training Young Athletes and keep us posted!


Tony Reynolds –


I think your mind is in the right place here. Obviously there are some big problems with this coach’s philosophy. Obviously you cannot come in and make the immediate changes that need to be made. I am also willing to be that you are on constant thin ice with this coach and have to monitor the volume and intensity of your suggestions or you will no longer have a job. The old bur in the saddle syndrome.


So, keep your eyes open for opportunity. Take every chance you can to make small changes. Overtime these can add up and make a difference.


I will also say this. Ego driven men are often more manageable then you might think. If you can figure out how to get this coach to “come up with more effective training concepts” on his own rather than giving him the answers yourself you may be able to manipulate him a bit. We will call it guided discovery:)


My wife does this to me all of the time. Now I cook supper, do the dishes, fold laundry, vacuum, mop the floors, mow the grass, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, and remodel the whole house. Maybe I should have her elaborate on her secret and very effective methods 🙂



3 Responses

  1. Eru says:

    At this moment your not going to change the ex P.T’s atitude and techniques,BUT,you need to continue to support those who get pushed to the rear of the group,like your 14yr,those that don’t get the full attention that they need.Just biding your time till your Head Coach isn’t enough,i think this may be a chance too apply some richolmes touches to get him up to scratch.Good luck!!!:).

  2. Phil Loomis says:

    These posts are evidence of why I love being a member of the IYCA. The support is fantastic! The people involved are even better.

    God Bless-

    Phil Loomis

  3. Nathin Davisson says:

    It is good that you are looking at ways to incorporate successful fitness with all the kids.
    I coach many different sports and various ages and you will always find some area that a kid can excell in or at least compete on a more level field. If you have a larger athlete that may not be able to keep up with the cardio of his smaller size teammate. You could look for ways to incorporate team work that reflects his assets: Say for example doing tug of war challenges – or Cirlcle Wars where two kids stand in a circle back to back and they have to try to push the other out. ( great for teaching kids to stay low and use their legs) Obviously keeping the challenges short helps to keep groups focused and working together. When working in groups, challenging youth such as yours may require more team building to allow them to feel accepted and successful. If you incorporate something he is good at after doing something such as a tempo run where he feels more isolated from the group. It will help to leave the athlete with a more positive feeling of accomplishment at the end of your workouts… and keep them coming back for more. Kids want to feel successful. I have had the greatest successes working with youth when after they know what I expect, I let them know when they are doing it correctly and praise them for it…

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