By: David Marmon
April 23, 2014
Last month one of my teenage athletes turned 17 years old. While this might seem like an insignificant milestone to most of you reading this, it was quite significant to me. It marked our 7th year training together. 7 years! These aren’t just any 7 years; these are the most important developmental (socially, intellectually, and physically) years of this young man’s life.
I remember the day he started. He was a chubby, quiet, passive 10 year old who couldn’t jump rope. Today, he kicks my ass in the gym on a regular basis. He is incredibly confident, yet not cocky. Straight A student; varsity football; varsity baseball; has his pilot’s license… the resume is quite impressive. This is a very special young man.
What makes this 17 year old different from others? Where did he get his discipline and drive? Well before I try to take credit for any of it, let me brag on his mom and dad. These folks started teaching their kids about RESPONSIBILITY at a very young age. The ideals and expectations that they were teaching at home served as the foundation of all this young man’s achievements. They made my job easy and enjoyable.
Following some reflection on my time with this young man, I thought that I would put together a list for parents outlining the benefits of having your children work with a strength & conditioning professional. I used my experience with this young man and his family as the basis for my list.
1. Long-term Athletic Development: From the age of 10-18 years of age, there are lots of changes going on in kid’s bodies and the time table varies from kid to kid. Having a coaching professional that understands proper progression and correction of motor patterns, loading, and intensity can be a huge game changer in the long-term development of your child. There is no “quick fix” or “short cut” when dealing with the development of youth. It starts with teaching good fundamental movement and progresses from there. With so much misinformation available on the Internet, it is vital to have a resource that is experienced, credentialed, and trustworthy.
2. Confidence: There seems to be a direct correlation between confidence and accomplishment. Show kids what they are capable of and confidence immediately follows.
3. No Starting Line-up: With team sports, the best athletes play and the rest of the kids ride the bench. Quite often this can hurt the development of less talented youth athletes. In our setting, every kid gets coached and in most cases the kids that are less talented get coached harder! No one falls through the cracks.
4. Emphasis on Performance vs. Aesthetics: With so much pressure on kids to be thin and beautiful (subjective things), we focus on performance-based data (objective things). Example: You did 5 pull-ups last week, today you did 6. Congratulations, you got better!
5. It’s Contagious: Fit kids can motivate mom and dad to get fit! Parents see their kid’s success and happiness, which gives them the courage to get started. We have several families that train with us.
6. Having an Honest Critic: As coaches, we are paid to be critical. Parents and friends will tell kids what they want to hear. I will always tell kids what they need to hear. Criticism should always be followed with a plan of correction. Genuine encouragement provides kids with confirmation that the correction has been made.
7. Character Building: Show up on time, prepared. Give your very best. Take pride in your work and responsibility for your actions. Learn from your successes and failures. Meet or exceed expectations. Help and encourage others. Make the world a better place than it was when you got here.
8. Sport Injury Prevention & Management: Consistent year-round training under the supervision of a strength & conditioning professional will decrease the occurrence of sport-related injuries and other overuse issues.
9. Friendship: Every kid needs a trustworthy, experienced person (other than mom & dad) that they can turn to for advice and counsel. I have had kids approach me for advice about college, relationships, their future, dealing with conflict, etc.
10. Preparation for Life as a Healthy, Successful Adult: At the end of the day, we are really preparing kids for the “real world”. We are teaching them how to take care of their bodies through diet and exercise. We are teaching them the value of hard work and the pursuit of excellence. We are teaching them how to communicate and deal with people. Each workout is nothing more than an opportunity to prepare our kids for the game of LIFE.