Training Young Athletes & Hmmmmm?

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!

Would you like to see the system that ISN’T the shortcut but has yielded
SUCCESS & RESULTS for 15,000+ young athletes worldwide??

Click here right now —-> https://iyca.org/completeathletedevelopment

7 Responses

  1. david pocock says:


    Loved your insights into “tweens”. As one of those “grown ups” who has fought to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seen hundreds of fitness and diet programs espoused over the years, my “hmmmm” insight is this; What’s the best exercise and diet routine for an individual? The one they will do. When the program or diet is so challenging that it actually de-motivates even though it promises (and even delivers) exceptional results, it is rendered ineffective. This is not to say exercise and diet don’t require some discipline and sacrifice, they do. The key is to find the “sacred” in “sacrifice” which is to say, finding enjoyment in the process that transcends the effort required. Keeping the enjoyment in a healthy lifestyle may be one of the biggest challenges long-term – so we have to keep in mind how “serious” conditioning becomes before we lose interest in it.

    I am planning to attend the IYCA conference this year because I want to find a way to become involved with development of youth in health and fitness and I am impressed with the thoughtful and careing approach of this organization.

    David Pocock

  2. Ryan Rizor says:


    Love the analogy of microwave and crock pot!

  3. Whenever I have coached a tween in hockey, or when my wife comes home with a story of an unmotivated or even reckless child in her classroom, there really is only one place to go.

    The parents.

    The example parents set regarding exercise, and the explanation why they are exercising are equally important to children. The parents expectation of the child/tween regarding athletic participation is also very important.

    A couple things I have tried to focus on with my son from an early age:

    1. Making sure he won’t be JUST an athlete. So we make sure he sees we are equally as proud of his art and school activities.
    2. Making sure he is listening and learning from the coaches, showing respect, and that it is a privilege to be attending.
    3. Exposing him to a variety of activites. Currently he likes playing hockey on the rug, takes tae kwon do lessons(funny because the time we send him there are 3 coaches and no other children. Private lessons for a 3 1/2 year old.) He has already spent time playing baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and doing a bit of yoga. He also understands why warming up and stretching is important. I also want to mention I don’t have him throwing a football or baseball 200 times a night or anything crazy…he plays what he wants to, we just make sure things are available.

    I bring all of this up because these things have NOT been our focus with him. We just happened to have him around while we did some of these activities and set the example. We would like him to love to exercise, and see it’s value. So when he becomes a tween, he will have many choices outside of doing nothing.

    Another observation was at a local middle school that I walk past everyday on my way to work. The school gets no accolades for being anything special, and I have been able to see the PE class “train” for the past 7 years. Varying groups of kids, same PE coach. The example the PE coach robbed these kids of exercise. It was horrible.

    They switched to another person last year, and the difference was amazing. He is obviously well trained, and a motivator. Nobody has been standing around and everyone participating. It’s been a joy to see, and I went out of my way to mention it to him a few months back.

    I too am of the Arsenio demographic, and am wondering where the time has gone. Now only if I could get that song out of my head. Thanks.


  4. This is a great on Toby. I see it all the time where I am. These coaches with outlandish clams of getting kids bigger, faster, stronger in as little as 15 hours is a joke. I too remember Arsenio’s long finger and the segment on the show. Mike Boyle said it best “These kids read there first Essentials text and they have all the answers of athletic development” not realizing the effort involved in working with young athletes.
    Thanks for the continued effort in helping me perfect my craft in a crock pot fashion.


  5. Dr. Kwame M Brown says:

    I also love the crock pot analogy.

    things that make me go hmmmm…

    1) Coaches, teachers, and parents who think that the only way for kids to be happy is to be “the best” at something. This is wrongheaded thinking.

    2) Programs that are set up for exclusion and not inclusion. What is your goal?

    3) People that think it is all about squat form. It is about the whole child, the whole teenager, and the whole adult. Happiness is about a connection to others, a connection to life, and a connection to nature. Anyone who doesn’t see the obviousness of those things is a fool.

    C’mon, son!

  6. Karen says:

    Wow, things that make me go hmmmm
    Parents who will sit in the line at a drive thru after a days work rather than serving a well balanced wholesome meal from the crock pot.
    Parents who chose not to spend time engaging in some type of physical activity with their children
    Lifestyle is a choice, live it and love it or waste it. Children need a path to follow where they can thrive and grow. If a child is raised in a healthy nurturing environment they will spin that back to their own, take that from a tween; between middle age and senior. My healthy lifestyle includes diet and fitness with a big dose of fun, this is all spun right back to the young people I interact with everyday, staring with my own.
    PS Another thing that makes me go Hmmmm I remember life before microwaves and crock pots and I am still having fun !!!!

  7. Richard Holmes says:

    As i read this article it occurs to me that childhood memories are a powerful thing. That even if a child doesn’t have natural sporting talent they can still have a positive attitude towards exercise.That is, if, it is fun.

    As one who was raised in the old skool “do as your told” culture its funny to see how things have changed so quickly. Yet as a late developer in sport i know the value of progression, support and time.

    More and more I see my job as a coach as being about making fitness fun. I challenge myself to get every child to be successful at a skill. I endeavour to give that child the progressions, support and time to do that skill. That is the art and the science of what i do – to be able to hide physical activity in something that enables the child to digest and feel good. If they carry that from each session i am a happy man, if not then its back to the drawing board. Just “my” childhood memories repeating.

    Nice one Toby

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