Youth Sports Conditioning


Youth Sports Conditioning Coaching Mistakes

Proper and developmentally-sound adjunct training in the form of speed, agility, strength, power and mobility work is the silver bullet in terms of building champions in any sport.


Done correctly, the collective gains of such training will serve to soundly support your mission as a sports coach to produce elite level competitors.


Done incorrectly, as is unfortunately often the case and your young athletes are destined for a life of injuries, missed opportunities and burnout.


That being said let me be blunt with my opening words of wisdom to you –


Leave what you currently know at the door and decide to open your heart to a new, fresh and much more effective method of training young athletes.


My job here is not to prove you wrong or cause you strive, but instead make your diligent and tireless work as a sports coach decidedly easier.


After 13 years of working as an Athletic Development Specialist throughout the world, I am now considered one of the foremost experts on this topic.


That is not meant to sound egocentric or in any way cocky.


Merely a statement to reflect that you can trust what it is I have to say.


I have personally worked with more than 10,000 young athletes worldwide and simply stated; I know what works and what doesn’t for youth sports conditioning


My advice will be sometimes poignant, often counter-conventional, but always direct.


With my first blog entry, I have decided to provide you with a series of metaphors that describe what proper youth athletic development should look like.


This will set the stage and provide a solid foundation on which to explain my proven methods for developing optimal speed, agility, strength, power and mobility.


As with anything, the degree to which you can successfully build upwards is solely determined by the strength, depth and solidification of your foundation…


Which leads me to my first metaphor…


Don’t Rush Grade 2


The school year has been created based on an understanding that the curriculum needing to be presented to students will take ‘x’ amount of time to teach properly.


If you were to take all the lessons and education contained in a standard Grade 2 school year and condense it down to 6-weeks worth of schooling, you would find that students did not understand, comprehend or retain virtually any of the material.


They would be overwhelmed and simply unable to ascend to higher levels of education successfully without this base building block of knowledge.


You Can’t Study Just Mathematics


Even if an 8-year-old child excelled and loved everything about math, you wouldn’t restrict them from learning the material offered in other subjects.


Removing basic curriculum such as Language, Science and Music would severely handicap that student from a developmental learning perspective.


General knowledge is a critically important element for children to be exposed to and learn at a young age. It sets the foundation for thinking process, problem solving and even study habits.


More over, to eventually specialize and excel in one particular area of study, a broad and far reaching understanding of all academic subjects is necessary.


When solving an involved mathematical equation for instance, the truly successful will pull from all their past experiences and resources in order to determine the appropriate answer.


‘Pigeonholing’ or relying on one specific area of expertise in youth sports conditioning is a practice that seldom proves successful


School is Progressive for a Reason


A student couldn’t understand advanced literature unless they were taught to read.


They couldn’t solve difficult mathematic problems with a basic foundation of knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.


A Master’s Degree in Science couldn’t be obtained without first being exposed to the basic elements of biology, physics and chemistry taught in high school.


Elementary through High School is a progressive building block of knowledge gaining that allows an individual to eventually specify and excel in a single area of study.


Miss any of the steps leading up to that climax however, and your success rate will plummet.


In my next blog post, I will outline what all of this means to you from a sporting perspective.


In support of your youth sports conditioning mission,


11 Responses

  1. Erik Bartkowiak says:

    You are dead on. This is not easy to point out to the average american, just look at the mess we are in now. Rather than make a good amount of financial gain over a large span of time, we go for the “quick-kill”, we want it all now! Your statements automatically position the IYCA as not another “as seen on TV” or “….in just six weeks!!” type programs. I think comparing it to school is the smartest thing you can do, because it is the one area that parents of school age kids are ultra protective of. We as parents wouldn’t think of raising a “stupid” kid, and would consider ourselves a failure if we did, yet to raise “fat” kid somehow does not raise the same distinction. (I understamd that these are not PC words but they are used here for dramatics) This is irrational thinking at it’s best. You are making parents aware of the fact that their child’s health is equally if not more important than their education, for without the former the latter will never come to fruition. I would love to see this in a “mission stement” or Philosophy statement that I could proudly display at the front desk of my facility that shows parents just what we stand for!

  2. Brian,

    I think the progressive, no-quick-fix mentality you support is spot-on, my friend. It is tempting to want things immediately, but we need to foster healthy learning and growth instead of putting our children (and ourselves) at risk of injury or worse.

    Is it possible to achieve very specific sport goals in a short amount of time that will improve performance? Sure.

    Will it have a negative impact on your health and sports longevity? Absolutely.

    I would rather have our youth grow up with a balanced perspective on athletics, and get away from the all-or-nothing, and “more is better” mentality. One of my coaches, Adam Steer, is renowned for his message “More is not better. Better is better.”

    I couldn’t agree more.


    John Sifferman NSCA-CPT

  3. Rob Crenshaw, NSCA-CPT says:

    Great article Brian and great comment John. I was just talking with a member about our former coaches and how they worked. Basically it came down to go until you get sick and then go some more. It would be like having a 2nd grader pull all nighters to study for his ACT’s.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Phil Hueston, IYCA YFS, NASM-SFS, PES says:


    You are on the money! What’s exciting for us is to see the (sometimes painfully slow) conversion of coaches to the “process”- or “journey”-based coaching model.

    We are all working to educate coaches, parents and athletes on the value and great results created by teaching our kids that progress, and greatness, don’t happen overnight.

    All-Star is growing a kid’s fitness program designed for ALL kids. After discussion with you in Stamford on 9/21, we’re even more committed to the goal of helping every kid to move, grow and succeed. We’re hoping to do that while reinforcing the lesson that “what you leave behind in this world is far more important than what you accomplish here!”



  5. Liz says:

    Anybody who wants to rush the development of children is either certifiably insane or very narrow-minded! As a mother of three very young kids, it’s essential to allow them to mature at the rates that work for them. Milestones happen, they just occur at different times for any child. What one child excels at another might struggle with for while but excel at something else in the meantime.

  6. Matt Holmes says:

    I love this article I could not have said it better. I was actually going over this at my bootcamp and a few more points with health and fitness that I believe in and the IYCA stands behind. People really need to think of if this way its not a short thing, and if you want it your in it for the long run. This plays to all levels and ages, not just the youth. You have helped me out and always keep me motivated I am glad to be a part of the IYCA!

    -Matt Holmes

  7. Ryan says:

    Your school analogy is great. It gives conceptual meaning to true development. To quote Steven R Covey, “Fast is slow, and slow is fast”.
    Something I think we all need to keep in mind: there were professionals developing youth fitness programs, based on sound scientific principles, before the IYCA was created – before those 10,000 athletes. Granted, the number of bad coaches unfortunately out number the good, but there have been people doing this successfully for years. The point is the IYCA gives professionals a platform and backing to have a louder voice. We can pull resources and continue pointing our services to the best interest of youth development. My mind is open to new insights. I’ve learned tons reading the articles and listening to the audios. I still volunteer time even though this is my business. But, to say we need to leave everything we know at the door is a pretty bold and generalized statement. This is me, but I would rather hear a message communicating leave what is bad, keep what is good, and work together to get better. Please don’t take this as negative because that’s not my intention… just one person’s thoughts. You accomplishments speak for itself.

  8. Kara Kelly says:

    Hi All,
    Great stuff, Brian. It’s so simple and rational. And yet so misunderstood by the general coaching community.
    People just need to heat it more. I’ve heard you (Brian) use that analogy of school before, and have since used it with parents and friends.
    They understand it and (seem to) agree.

  9. Rob Kirkland says:

    Brian as usual you are dead on. The I’ve heard you use the school analogy also and its what I like to call breaking it down to the rediculous which unfortunately is what we have to do sometimes to help others understand you can’t rush the process of you deveopement.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you all for the kind words and great comments!

    ALL feedback is welcomed and taken very seriously to heart.

    Keep plugging away from your end and we will keep doing the same from ours…

    … Meet you in the middle!


  11. Njama says:

    I’ve gone through a lot of info from many sources about youth training, and since my daughter is involved in taekwondo, I help her with endurance and flexibility, This site by itself is always packed with positive information. One of the best things is it’s not focused to just one sport because many children are all over the place 🙂 Although I’m not certified through IYCA, I’m convinced TO get certified for youth fitness. I’ve been training for over 8 years, this has made it fun for me all over again!

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