As a speed and strength coach, I’m privy to a lot of research that is out there to help your kids get better at their sport.  This is obviously beneficial to you since I am able to keep up with the latest cutting edge information while developing your athlete.

I’m also a parent of two daughters who are athletes.  My knowledge just happens to come in handy when dealing with their different sport experiences.  Not just on the training, but about this whole youth sports industry in general.

Sometimes I feel that parents make decisions for their athlete that might not be the best in the big scheme of things.  But, they aren’t privy to the knowledge that I have.

For that, I’m going to help you out today.

I’m going to share some of the knowledge I’ve learned throughout the years that hopefully help you make good decisions for your athletes in regards to their sports.

  • The first is important and been the basis of the development of my kids. I’m not a fan of sport specialization at an early age and the research is backing me up on this.  The earliest age kids should specialize is 13.  And even that might be a bit too soon.  But, besides taking away life experiences playing different sports, you are stunting the development of athleticism in the youths.  They are still growing and learning how to be an athlete.  Their athleticism is not yet developed.  Playing different sports allows them to learn different movements and how to process them.  If they specialize too soon, they might be missing out on that development that other sports provide.
  • If you are going to take that risk of specialization, then you must do a sport performance program. The #1 reason is for injury prevention. As I mentioned, I have two daughters and both played soccer and basketball.  Two sports where girls have a higher risk of tearing their ACL’s tearing.  I started my daughters early (about 5th grade) in training so that we could start assessing their movements.  This way we could correct early imbalances to reduce the chance of injuries.  As they got older and those imbalances became less, then we started training them for speed and strength.  They were older and their bodies could handle that type of training better.  But, it was injury prevention first and foremost.
  • I feel one of the things lacking for young athletes is playing sports just to play sports. Free play is all but gone.  Pickup sports is rare.  Yes, kids play more than ever, but it is all organized practices and games.  I am all for multi-sports, but not in the same season.  Let kids play one organized sport per season.  Then encourage playing pickup sports.  There is so much to be learned playing pickup sports.  You learn the subtleties of the sport.  I also believe, I can’t find research on this to support it, but you do less wear and tear on your body playing unorganized pick up then you do organized games.
  • You have to develop the athlete early in his/her development as opposed to developing the player. Meaning, don’t focus as much on the skill of the sport early on.  It is much more difficult to develop the athleticism (speed, coordination, quickness) later in an athlete’s development then it is early on.
  • You should plan for complete rest several times throughout the year. Do nothing.  For an athlete, I could see 4 1-week breaks from sports.  Allow the body to rest and recover before you get back into it.  And when they are playing their sport, you have to get one complete day of rest.  Figure it out.  They aren’t professionals so they don’t need to go 7 days a week.  But, get one day a week doing nothing so they can be refreshed for the remainder of practices/games.

That is just a taste of what you can ponder when it comes to helping your athlete.  Feel free and ask questions in the comments and I’ll try to get them as soon as I can if you have some in regards to your athlete.