What does it take to be the best athlete you can be? I have heard lots of answers over my 20+ years in this business. Generally speaking, the number one answer I hear is practice. Difficult to argue that more practice won’t make you a better player. That’s why so many coaches hold every practice that can . That’s why so many parents take their kids to hitting coaches, pitching coaches, qb coaches. That’s why so many parents seek out private basketball training, baseball training, football training, etc, etc, etc. If a little practice is good then a lot more and more specialized practice would be even better. All potentially very beneficial, but it if that is all your kid is doing then he or she is really missing out on potentially the biggest of all game changers.
When I opened up my Sports Performance Training center 6 years ago in the Edmonds/Lynnwood area I saw an area with an abundance of good youth athletes. Almost every sport in the area has a solid mass of talented players from soccer and football to baseball, softball and basketball just to name a few. I realized that the one thing missing was a place for them to develop their athleticism. A place where they could get stronger, faster and more agile. A system that would help them become more resilient and more likely to avoid injury. That was the motivation behind Absolute Fitness & Sports Performance. What I observed is that young athletes who sought out that kind of training were ending up at box gyms like LA Fitness, personal training studios or even Crossfit’s. All places that serve a purpose, just not the correct one for youth athletes.
Even more disturbing was the over scheduled youth of today. Kids playing on multiple teams, practicing 4 days a week plus going to the specialized coach plus games and in some cases a second sport at the same time. Add that to already busy school work loads, social lives and family commitments and it’s amazing our kids ever have time to breath. The reality that it’s hard to do it all. it’s a lot of stress on the kids and the parents to say the least.
What is created is a situation where somethings got to give. You can only do so much and usually the thing that gets dropped or marginalized is physical development. Heartbreaking when I think about it. I know I am biased but research doesn’t lie. Stronger, Faster, more Agile kids end up as better players. They suffer way fewer injuries. They play at a much higher level and see greater success almost across the board. What I see a lot is we get athletes who have a “break” in their select season or sport season and are looking to train for 1 – 3 months. Now the is great and definitely has benefit, but imagine if you were a basketball player and for one month out of the year you practiced your shot and the other eleven months you just played? Where would you be a t the end of that year? Who knows, but the odds are good that your shot would not be as good as it would be of you continued to practice it year round. Well that is what happens a lot with sports performance training. we get a young athlete for 1 – 3 months we begin to develop their strength, speed, agility, and overall athleticism then their schedule changes and poof they are gone. Now did it help them? Absolutely yes! Is it enough? Just like the analogy of basketball player, I think we can all agree the answer is no. There comes a point with every youth athlete where it becomes about as important to develop their physical athletic ability as their sport skill. That age is roughly 12. Kills me to see really good players fall behind because they are not doing the training they need to go to the next level and other kids are gaining ground because they willing to do what it take.
So I continue to try and educate our youth sports community including parents, coaches, and league directors. If you are playing a select sport or are in competitive season then once per week strength, speed and agility training is perfect. When you are off season 2x per week is ideal. The hardest thing I see is kids come in start training with us, are making progress and then the schedule gets tougher so the first thing to go is… that’s correct Sport Performance Training. I have had high level coaches tell me that they think the SP training is as important or more important in some cases then all the practices and specialized trainings. Especially true if you play a select sport and it’s the only sport you do. Then you are at risk for some potential injury/orthopedic issues due to imbalances and overuse.
To conclude; sports performance training including strength/power, speed & agility and overall athletic ability is only optional if you are not interested in your child being the best they can be. I know the struggle is real with schedules , practices and just plain life, but the fact is that one time a week is doable for everyone if they really want it. The best way to prove that is to answer the following question: if you were guaranteed that with SP training one time a week your child would get a full scholarship to one of the top universities in our country and that was the only way they would be able to make it would you find the time then? The answer is, if you are truly being honest, yes of course. Now I’m not telling you that’s the case only making you realize that it is possible.
Not only does the correct SP training give your child all the benefits of optimal athletic performance, reduced injury risk and better sport skill but it also teaches them healthy life skills, work ethic and improved psychological function. Basically everyone wins!
Think about it. Find a way to make it happen. Make it a priority and truly see the benefits that comes from it. Youth sports are so much fun and insuring that your child has the best possible experience takes many facets. Sports Performance training is one of those facets. Don’t disregard it I know you can find a way to make it happen.
Best of luck to your child as they continue their journey of being a youth athlete. Please let me know if you have any questions about sports, sports performance training and long term athletic development for todays youth athletes.
- Jeff Miller, Owner/Head Performance Coach
Absolute Fitness & Sports Performance