You’re Destroying Young Athletes

Young Athletes Programming

One of my favorite things to do is chat with the ‘big name’ trainers in our industry about programming, speed training, strength development or flexibility for young athletes.


Sometimes, in the middle of a casual conversation about nothing at all related to conditioning, I will switch gears in an instant and turn the discussion to something related to training.


And that’s just what I did with superstar trainer, Alwyn Cosgrove this past weekend.


Alwyn and I are good friends, so it’s not really unusual for us to be chatting about sports or family late in the afternoon on Saturday.


“Ya, baseball doesn’t really do it for me – after all, I’m  Scottish!” Alwyn was telling me.


“Uh huh” I replied, not really listening… I was planning my big move.


“It’s kinda like Cricket I guess, except for a smaller field, smaller bat, different throwing motion, different scoring system… actually, it’s not really like Cricket at all is it?” Alwyn continued on.


“I guess not,” I countered… about ready to evoke my patented conversation-switching technique.


“Ya, and besides, Cricket games can go on for like 4,000 years or something like that.  Rugby, now there’s a game. I remember…” Alwyn stopped mid-sentence – I had finally sprung into action.


“What’s the biggest mistake trainers are making with young athletes in this industry, Al?” I finally asked.

Alwyn Cosgrove is known as one of the best in the industry because, quite simply, he is one of the best.


He has trained everyone from out-of-shape middle-aged people, to collegiate, international, professional and Olympic athletes and kids.


And he has done so successfully.


That’s what most people don’t’ understand about the training and conditioning industry.


Every trainer I know TALKS about how great they are, but very few are actually TRULY great.


Cosgrove is an exception.


If anyone is qualified to answer a question about the ‘state of the industry’ and what trainers are doing wrong, it’s him.


“Easy”, he said.


“I don’t know when it happened”, he went on, “But the trainers have stopped training people for quality & started worrying only about making the training session hard”


My ears perked up immediately. 


“Go on” I ushered


“No one seems to understand the fact that training someone for fat loss, sports performance or even just general health, doesn’t mean that you have to beat the crap out of them every session.  In fact, that’s the WRONG thing to do”


I was really interested now.


“Efficient work is better and more beneficial than hard work,” he continued.


“And most trainers just don’t get that”




This is a point that I have been making in this newsletter for over 4 years now.


Efficient work far outdraws hard work any day of the week for young athletes



But most trainers and coaches I have ever come into contact with either do not understand the reality of this or simply don’t have the skills to create training programs that don’t involve beating the crap out of there athletes.


Injuries are up in young athletes worldwide, in part, because you are training them too hard.


Potential is not being maximized because you don’t know how to create long-term programs that develop a young athlete’s ability, and not pound them into submission.


Kids are over-specializing at a young age, which is counter- productive to their ultimate ability, and, even though you may believe it to be wrong, you can’t resist making training sessions hard.


Want to learn more about how to EFFECTIVELY train young athletes?


My International Summit is just two weeks away –







– Brian

4 Responses

  1. Charlie Levine says:

    I totally agree with you on this. At our gym our athletes tend to “get it” and we focus on form with them.

    But almost everyone else moves like a klutz and just sort of laments that they aren’t coordinated and young. Which bugs the crap out of me when all they need is to take out some of the dynamic elements, simplify the movements, and take the time to pay attention to their body instead of counting reps.

    As trainers we also have to deal with perceived value. People often look at fitness like an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you walk away “hungry” IE still able to move, then you didn’t get your money’s worth, especially if they are paying $50 per workout.

  2. Brian says:

    Pretty good, but how do we persuade trainees that integrity of exercise must precede intensity? What analogies, rhetoric or catch phrases can help? Maybe these ideas can help; For exmple, I never understood the “kata” in karate, the part where slow forms and movements are part of the warm-up, but now I see how they parallel movement preparation as a warm-up before a training session…kata is movement preparation! The Russians are famous for their “focus on form” and even successful powerlifters videotape themselves making or failing a lift in order to review their technique. The devil is in the details.

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