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Youth Sports Training: Creating a Strong Foundation

December 18, 2023 by

Finding the coach and facility is critical for all gym-goers, but I would argue that there’s no one it’s more important for than the young athlete.

This is because altering the training trajectory for a child will have the most significant impact on their health and sports performance down the road.

This is why teaching sound movement and prioritizing quality over loading is critical.

Related: Building the Ideal Athlete From Scratch (Video)

Identifying Proper Movement

Personally, I focus a lot of time and energy on teaching my youth athletes how to identify proper movement.

How should the spine and pelvis be oriented in a proper hinging pattern?

Where should the knees be positioned when moving through jumping and sprinting?

In my experience, teaching these fundamentals to young, adaptable athletes isn’t usually too much of a challenge.

The challenge lies in balancing the kid having fun, seeing measurable progress, and creating buy-in.

The child needs to build consistency through an appropriate level of comradery with the coach through honest feedback and steady encouragement.

Developing the Fundamental Movement Patterns

Press, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Lunge, Jump / Run, Core

These patterns are the foundation that all movements are built upon, regardless of the specific sport.

Personally, I focus on building competence through consistent exposure…good luck getting great at any endeavor without loads of practice.

This means that for most of my youth trainees, they do an exercise in most of the fundamental patterns each training session.

I structure it like this for two reasons…

(1) Most young athletes aren’t training at my facility more than 2-3 times per week, meaning they almost always have time to recover between sessions

(2) Unlike some of the elite adult athletes I work with, children don’t have the ability to express high levels of strength and power, which means they can (and should) do more frequency in a variety of patterns. It’s the difference between expressing strength and developing skill.  You can practice free throws daily, but you shouldn’t squat heavy every day.

Finally, I thought it may be helpful to give a real example of one of my youth athletes training.

[14 y/o female, track athlete]
3:00 Easy AirBike
A1. Alternating Step-Ups (3 x 6)
A2. Up-Dog to Down-Dog (3 x 6)
A3. 90-90 Hip Rotations (3 x 6)
B. Box Jump, Step Down (6 x 3) build to tough height
C. Goblet Weighted Step-Up (4 x 6 alt)
D. RDL; from rack (4 x 6) 3s lower 
E1. DB Bent Over Row (3 x 10ea)
E2. DB Push Press (3 x 8)
F. Every 2:00 x 6 Sets:
-10 Shuttle Sprint (25ft each) @ Fast Pace
-AirBike @ Recovery Pace, Remainder
G1. High Plank Hold (3 x 40s)
G2. Banded Pallof Press (3 x 10ea)

Got questions for me? Reach out!

Related: Best Coaching & Programming Practices for Teen CrossFit Athletes

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