Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Building a Better Foundation for Youth Athletes


It's during the childhood fun of recreational sports where naturally-gifted athletes are discovered and their talents are cultivated. Unfortunately, left in the wrong hands, that talent can be squandered, and ability can be impeded by burnout or injury.

"Typically, young athletes have been given watered-down versions of adult or elite athlete programs and, in some cases, not even watered-down versions," says Dan Baker, Ph.D., president of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association. The problem is that these youth athletes aren't able to excel in collegiate or professional sports due to physical and training limitations. "They've either over-competed at the expense of performing solid developmental training, or they've been given inappropriate training," he says. Either way, they're burning out.

Baker says the solution is to put a greater focus on building a strong, safe foundation, progressing through the appropriate stages of training, and emphasizing the importance of the athlete's career longevity. This will not only build the necessary physical structure needed to avoid injuries, but also the mentality needed to succeed.

The best way to help your players succeed is to understand your place in the bigger picture of their career. "Don't be selfish," says Baker. "Being the strongest kid in junior high, by means of inappropriately fast-tracking training, means nothing if the athlete is burned out and doesn't get a college degree, international competition, or a pro career at the end of their sporting pathway." Bottom line: Keep the athlete's best interest in focus and provide them with the foundation they need to succeed either at the level they're training for or in the future.

For more on Baker's philosophy on youth training and how you can protect your athletes' talent, join us for EXOS Presents Dan Baker on April 5-6, 2014. This two-day workshop, held at our Phoenix, Ariz., facility will focus on:

• Long-term athletic development
• Reasons why youth athletes get injured and/or give up sports/training
• How to positively influence youth athletes
• Best practices with an emphasis on physical competency and controlling load

You can sign up for this session on our education site. And if you missed our last session, EXOS Presents – The 0.10 Second Difference, participate now and save 20 percent.