Thursday, January 22, 2009

Training young kids

The first speaker of the weekend was Vern Gambetta.  As far as I'm concerned, he's as good as it gets in terms of perspective toward training young kids.  I have heard him speak on a couple occasions and have also read his book, "Athletic Development", which places attention on a patient, developmental approach to working with pre-pubescent children up through high school.  

Listening to him always reminds me that sometimes, as trainers, we get into a hurry with our younger athletes and, in doing so, compromise their long-term development.  Vern points to the fact that in this day and age kids are experiencing far too many competition days relative to training days.  In other words . . . too many games!!!  This trend doesn't allow for true athletic development at a young age.  

Kids are specializing far too early before they really have a chance to grow into a mature athlete.  What happened to allowing these kids to develop universal athletic skills and movements?  Kids need to learn discipline but there is often too much structure to their activities . . . and, I've been just as guilty as the next guy.  I've caught myself being too routine-oriented with my younger kids and have recently found ways to add some variety to their sessions.  

Simply put, if we can first make our young athletes more conscious of their bodies and teach them a variety of movement patterns while placing them in different positions we have laid the foundation for future athletic development.    

Monday, January 12, 2009

A weekend among training professionals

After spending the weekend in Nashville at the NSCA Sports Specific Conference, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity for me make my first post. If you've never attended one of these conferences and you are passionate about training, then I suggest you find your way to one as soon as possible. Just when you thought you had it all figured out . . .

The beauty of these conferences is that you become aware that there is more than one way to skin a cat. If you're like me, it's easy to get caught in your little vacuum of methods and exercises that you fail to recognize other very valuable avenues of training athletes.

That being said, you can't go to these conferences wide open and looking to apply everything you come across. Quite often, speakers contradict each other, not necessarily because one is more correct than the other, but because each has had success getting results through different processes. And, let's face, each has worked with different athletes and no athlete is the same. So, something that might raise athlete "A" to another level might not get any response out of athlete "B".

Not that I would consider myself a conference veteran by any stretch, but I have realized that if I can pull one or two things from each presentation to apply to my own methods, it is a successful session.

We each have our own training philosophy and hopefully you are as convinced about yours as I am about mine. But, when attending these conferences, I often seek out the speakers who I know conflict with my own methods so I can see another perspective and sharpen myself to become a better trainer.

In the weeks to come, I will raise some questions that came to mind while I was attending the conference. Hope it makes you reflect on what you're doing with your athletes just as it made me do the same.