Training Young Athletes
by Toby J. Brooks, PhD, ATC, CSCS, YCS-2, PES
Director of Research & Education – IYCA
Owner – www.nitrohype.com
Two Youth Fitness Things That Make Me Go HMMMMMMM?
I’ll admit it. I am older than much of the IYCA “core” demographic. After attending last year’s First Annual International Summit in Louisville, I walked away feeling somewhat surprised that I was actually experienced enough (read: old enough) to be considered a veteran in the field. That said, I am old enough to remember when The Arsenio Hall Show was the late night show to watch. One of my favorite bits was his now infamous “Things that make you go ‘hmmmmm?’” To further demonstrate how “seasoned” I am, also remember when a song of the same name by C & C Music Factory was getting heavy airplay in the rotation at my local pop station. Since I always get a little nostalgic during the Christmas season, I thought it appropriate to “blow the dust off” Arsenio’s bit and give it a youth fitness slant. So, without further ado, I give you “Two Youth Fitness Things That Make Me Go ‘Hmmmmm’.”
1. Where are all the tweens?
We have heard about “tweens” for a while. Those “not kids, but not adults.” I’m not talking about them. In recent years, I have been surprised by the dichotomy that has developed in kids. They are either super motivated and willing to do any and everything you ask them to do, or they seem completely indifferent and disinterested in physical activity of any sort. I am unabashedly biased. I LOVE to work with any young athlete who WANTS to be his or her best. In stepping back though, I realize that healthy lifelong habits and love for physical activity is best fostered with a “tween” attitude. Most of your athletes won’t be able to devote three or four hours a day to exercise when they are 25 and have responsibilities, jobs, schools, families, etc. But we don’t want them to think of exercise as punishment, either. Helping young athletes understand that exercise can be a pathway to athletic success, but more importantly, health and wellness, should be a goal.
2. Why so many shortcuts?
I believe athleticism is developed over time. There are plenty of opportunities to shortcut the process and see immediate results, but oftentimes such practices undermine long term development. I’m also fairly certain that research would support my ideas, or better said, I’m pretty sure my ideas were founded in research (pause and think for a second why the latter is better!). What I hate to see is practitioners and coaches why espouse long term development to their athletes and parents while proclaiming themselves as “experts” with little formal knowledge, training, and skill. Unfortunately, we live in a microwave society that wants everything yesterday. We need to be crock pot coaches, willing to be patient, gain experience, and learn from or predecessors’successes and failures. I spent three years as an underpaid graduate assistant, working 60+ hour weeks at the University of Arizona. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It shaped me and made me think differently. That’s why the IYCA is such an awesome resource, because you get to communicate with folks who have “been there and done that as far as Training Young Athletes is involved.” We are men and women who have paid our dues and are better coaches because of it. And unlike other organizations, you have access to that on a daily basis.
I’m a little long winded today, so I better cut it short at just two. However, there are plenty of other things that make me go "hmmmmm" in this industry that maybe we can share in the coming weeks.
I welcome your comments, and would love to know what when Training Young Athletes makes you go "hmmmmm" too.
Now set your brain on “simmer” and get back to work!
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