Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

10 Important Questions About Training Kids

By: Bill Parisi, BA, CSCS,
Founder & CEO, Parisi Speed School

1. What do you see as the benefits to personal trainers of training children?

First, I like to use the word “coach” as opposed to trainer. Coaching children allows the coach to connect and mold a client from an early age. Coaches have the opportunity to become mentors to children and can have a positive influence in a child's life.

2. What are kids looking for when they seek PT services and hire a coach? Why do they want a coach and how do they pick which one to hire?

Kids don’t hire trainers – parents hire good coaches. Parents typically hire coaches to improve their child’s performance for a specific sport. Most kids under the age of 14 are involved in some sort of organized sport such as soccer, basketball, baseball or football. But that isn’t the only reason parents hire coaches. Parents also hire coaches to get their kids to feel better about themselves. Once they start working with a coach, they start to see that they can do things that they never thought they could do. Their self-esteem skyrockets, and that feels good.

3. Describe the type of training you do with kids. Describe a typical program.

A typical program I perform with a child is based on general overall conditioning centered around an active dynamic warm-up. The routine for children needs to be fun, fast moving and always changing.

At the Parisi Speed School, we use Speed Enhancement as a strategy to improve overall fitness and performance. General calisthenics followed by multiple forms of linear and lateral movements such as skipping, lunge walks, side runs, and shuffle runs. From there we incorporate progressive and regressive dynamic stability and mobility. This usually takes about 20 minutes, and then we go into movement skill training that teaches one of the following: Acceleration, Change of Direction, or Maximum Speed Running. These 3 technical models are immediately improved upon if the child is warmed up properly, and understands and begins to adopt the movement patterns you are teaching.

4. How do you differ your training for children vs. adults?

Our training for children is centered around athletic-based running mechanics. The entire workout is aerobic-based in nature and is performed in an open space such as an indoor track, turf or in an aerobics room. We incorporate different forms of strength training with children when appropriate. We utilize some of these techniques with adults but we do not get as specific with certain movements. Adults are more traditional metabolic strength-based workouts where kids are more athletic-based speed and agility movements.

5. What special knowledge, education, skills, etc. should coaches who train kids have?

As a baseline, all coaches should be certified by ACE, NASM, or NSCA. I feel these three provide a good foundation and are comprehensive systems in the marketplace for training children. Additionally, trainers working with children should study movement skill training for speed. Perform Better has a host of videos on this subject for sale including the Parisi Training Method for Game Speed 10 Part Series. Every kid wants to get faster, and when a child trains to get faster, he or she naturally becomes more fit.

6. What role does the parent play in the training? How do you manage working for both the child and parent?

The parent is the decision maker, or as we say at the Parisi Speed School: “The Parent is the Gatekeeper.” We know the sale for a child’s training is first to the parent – the parent is the “customer” and the child is the “consumer.” But while the parent plays an important role in getting a child started in training, it is the coach who needs to make an emotional connection with the child in order for that child to continue his or her program long term. This is extremely important for coaches to understand. Kids need and want discipline and direction when it comes to fitness training. Our most requested coaches here at the Parisi Speed School are not necessarily the toughest ones, but the ones who demand 100% in physical and “mental effort.” The key is to educate your young clients on important life skills such as giving your best efforts and always praising them for that, having a positive attitude, and setting and working towards reachable goals. Be the coach who you once looked up to when you played a sport. Show the kids you really care about them. You should attend one of their sporting events and show them support outside of the gym environment. This type of behavior can have an everlasting impact on a child and position the coach as a role model and mentor. Kids need positive role models today more than ever, and positive coaches are positioned to be that person for many children.

7. What marketing tips do you have for trainers who would like to start working with kids?

Promote that you build a child’s physical foundation that leads to greater self-confidence. When a child achieves a goal such as running faster or learning a new change-of-direction skill, his self-esteem is boosted. Competence builds confidence! Also, become involved as a volunteer at local youth sporting events or with teams. Offer your services to teams for free. It is likely that you will have a couple parents hire you to give their child individual lessons.

9. What do you think are the future prospects for training kids?

Training kids is a growing business. I see the market expanding as more trainers become coaches and proficient in the technical skills of training children. But, more importantly, trainers who wish to work with kids need to be “born” with an emotional desire to want to help them. I also think it is critical that a coach find a fitness environment where the parents can workout in the same place as the child. Everyone is under a time crunch in our society and if a coach can work with a child and give the parents some time to do something good for themselves, it is a win/win situation for everyone. It is very important that a professional fitness environment is offered for this type of joint situation.

10. Anything else that you would like to add?

Training kids is different than training adults. Emotionally, children are un-molded clay and coaches have a huge opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives. I realize that training kids may not sound great to some people, but if you help children improve their performance and self-confidence, you just created a viral marketing agent with their parents. They will, without a doubt, help grow your adult and youth business. Working with kids takes empathy, compassion and leadership on behalf of the coach. These are the things we focus on here at the Parisi Speed School.

To learn more about working with youth visit

(November 2014)