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The Benefits of Targeted Training Programs for Youth

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shutterstock_211957402Increase traffic and consumer awareness of your club with targeted training programs for youths and teenagers.

Training programs for youth and teenage athletes is an explosive market in the U.S., and can be just what a club operator needs to increase membership. But before you get into training this segment of the population, the most important thing to remember is this: You can’t train kids the way you train adults. 

Older teens may look and talk like adults, but physiologically, psychologically and mentally they are not. Conversely, some youth and younger teens often look and talk like kids, but physiologically, psychologically and mentally they are not. In each stage of teen-hood there are specific accelerated physical adaptations that can be capitalized on in training, and specific brain and thinking stages involved in that training. Ignore those two parameters and your client will drop out as you slowly lose your mind.

Young teens, approximately 12 to 15 years old, are a particular challenge because at the beginning of this stage, their developmental age can be as much as four years different than their chronological age.

For group sessions with this demographic, coaches must be able to differentiate instruction quickly and smoothly. Progressive drills should always be in the lesson plan — same skill, different levels of skill development. A simple example is arm action in running. Some teens should be primarily working on seated arm action, postural correction and flexibility, some should be adding more stability and working on standing arm action, while others should be running focusing on arm action.

Focus on Foundational Skills

While training younger teens, focus on consolidating previously learned foundational athletic skills, as this is not the time to introduce a plethora of new skills. Puberty and the adolescent growth spurt disrupt their patterned muscular responses. What they could do without a problem last week may be a struggle this week. Re-cementing the foundational skills will help curtail the resultant frustration.

Here’s the caveat: drills and training have to “look” different to them because teenagers do not want to do what they did when they were “young.” For example, your Change of Direction training can get into much more detail about technique, maybe with some resistance added in. It’s the same skill repetition, but with a different psychological mindset.

At the end of the young teen stage comes a tremendous opportunity for strength training. Approximately 12 months after young athletes hit their peak weight velocity (maximum rate of growth in body weight) there is a significant acceleration of adaptation for strength training, so it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that with a well structured, formal weight-training program.

And finally, focus, because they can’t. A teenager is not wired to focus on one task for a long period of time, so don’t go insane trying to figure out why they aren’t focusing for you. You are not only training their body but their focus as well. Visualization training can be incorporated at this point but should be brief and consistent. Giving them a mantra to repeat as they go through drills will help, as the auditory repetition aids in concentration (“hips back, arms at….”). Motor repetition when done correctly reinforces the neurological pathways, whether they’re thinking about what they’re going to be doing Friday night or about the drill.

Smart club operators and owners are always on the lookout for new training programs or for ways to tweak their current methods. Understanding how to properly train younger athletes can be just what you need to boost your membership ranks. Because when the kids are improving their speed and strength, mom and dad are going to be happy as well. Just think about how those parents’ word-of-mouth “advertising” talking about your operation to their friends can help grow your business along the way.

 

Bill Parisi is the Founder and Managing Partner of Parisi Speed School. He can be contacted at 888-GET-FAST, and by email at bparisi@parisischool.com. Online at www.parisispeedschool.com/businessopportunity.

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