Is there a "best way" to train athletes?
Many roads can lead to Rome, but the way America is operating with regards to training our youth, only the genetically gifted are thriving. The majority are getting injured and / or burning out emotionally long before they are at the age where they can achieve high levels of athleticism or their true potential .
I'm saying this through experience, not guessing. I started training athletes in 1995. Every 5 years or so, I notice another decline in athletes overall preparation. Since 2010, the decline has been more rapid than ever with athletes showing up weaker than ever before. Weaker physically and emotionally.
- I've watched a young middle school athlete break his elbow while pitching; Too much throwing and lack of strength.
- I've watched a Basketball player (age 11) break his foot while jumping rope; 11 months of AAU Basketball since age 7 will destroy the body.
- I've watched middle school Baseball players injure their back (strained QL, although Docs will send athlete for MRI, etc and now the Doctor think it's a broken back or bulging disc) simply from swinging a bat. This is from swinging / rotating one direction from age 5 to teenage years. These kids need trunk strength and stability. Imagine what swinging one direction for thousands upon thousands of reps for YEARS can do to the body. Now, imagine what happens to a body that has NO strength.
- I've watched middle school baseball players NEVER switch positions (thank you, Coach), pitch or catch an entire games, or worse, pitch one game, then catch an entire next game.
All of these overuse issues are destroying these kids. And, it's all common sense in my opinion, to strengthen weak areas, to rotate positions on a Baseball field, to playmultiple sports, etc - But unfortunately, common sense seems to be NOT so common nowadays.
Yesterday I had a conversation with 3 kids I started working with in middle school. They are now freshman and sophomores.
They mentioned how some of their teammates who used to train with us a few years ago were disappointed, because they were not back squatting, deadlifting, etc. while in middle school.
When you build athletes up SAFELY & with age appropriate training, you must build a FOUNDATION. There should be NO squats or deadlifts (spinal loading) when they look like a wet noodle doing a 26 lb Goblet Squat.
Unfortunately, other "Coaches" don't care, and so they use the fads, gimmicks and dangerous methods to appease people. I will go broke before I do the wrong thing for the kids.
I train our younger athletes through the model of what is done with many Russian & European athletes. This way, by the time they reach their mid teen years, they have built a tremendous foundation BOTH physically AND emotionally. They become model athletes in this manner.
After a period of building a tremendous foundation, these athletes are prepared to Squat, Clean, Bench, etc. YES, some of our middle school athletes perform LIGHT trap bar deads, LIGHT front squats, LIGHT benching but that is the MINORITY of what they do.
I use basic gymnastics, med balls, kettlebells, sleds, bands, movement & PLAY.
Think about it. Three of those kids (ages 15) just Pulled 315 EASY. That would NOT be safe or appropriate had they not been built up with the proper foundation. Their bodies AND minds were built up so when it was time to lift heavy, it was safe.
As a Coach, I do what is BEST for the Kids, NOT what someone else says is Best or only to pump the business.
I plan for LONG term success & longevity of the body so the athlete can compete at the highest level vs burning out or being injured constantly through high school.
Uneducated Coaches / Parents, etc simply do NOT want this long term approach. They want their 12 year old who can't perform 1 pull up to be able to move like Bo Jackson.
I don't care who the best 12 or 15 yr old athlete is. I don't care that a 12 year old just deadlifted 315 (incorrectly). I don't care if it gets more views and likes. I care about doing what is right for the athlete. Period. End of Story.
I want to see kids getting college scholarships and continuing through college. On average, only 6 - 7% of high school athletes continue their sport onto a NCAA college team.
Common sense tells you that at age 17 or 18, you are NOT at your peak for sports. So why don't kids want to keep training in their sport through college? Because they get tired of the non stop work and pressure. Many have had injuries and feel like shyt due to poor coaches / coaching. A smarter training approach must be implemented but it will not happen in America across the board.
Why? Youth Sports is now a BIG business. People are building multi million dollar business from travel baseball teams, basketball clubs, etc.
If you're a Coach and you "lose kids" because they want to Deadlift and Back Squat at age 11 or 12 yet those kids are NOT physically and / or emotionally ready, then DO THE RIGHT THING.
Let other places do as they wish. Your goal and number one job as a Coach is "Do No Harm". Train these kids the right way. Period.
Live The Code 365,