Training for Youth Athletes: Keep it Simple Silly (K.I.S.S.)

It’s been 10 years since I started Boost and began working with youth athletes.  Based on my experiences, my motivation to deliver science based training to an underserved market was born.  See I was on the receiving end of some pretty bad training philosophies years ago.  Coming out of college as a free safety and preparing for the draft, I was reached out to by a “trainer” who in retrospect didn’t know much about actually developing speed.  He knew some neat drills and taught me some fancy footwork but there was no science, no actual substance, and he was grossly inconsistent.  This motivated me, because I knew the type of coach I didn’t want to be, and what young athletes like myself really needed.  10 years deep in the game, I’m still learning and still growing, here’s what I can say I know.

Consistency is key.  As i’ve said before, training to develop strength, power, and speed are not overnight fixes.  It’s a constant journey of self improvement where gains can be lost almost as quickly as they’re achieved.  At my gym, the Boost Performance Center, I encourage every parent who steps into our doors to enroll in one of our 3 day programs.  This is because 1 day of training won’t do much at all, 2 days will maintain and 3 is where actual growth happens.  This is tough in a sports environment where off-seasons are essentially non-existent, but the time has to be carved out and committed to.   Athletes will, for the most part, improve the qualities they repeatedly work on, so it makes sense that if you commit to speed and strength development you’re going to see gains over time. This is a very simple concept that’s difficult for many parents.  Too often I speak with parents who find out too late that their child needs to get stronger or faster and now they need results in unreal and unreasonable time frames.  Be consistent with training and you’ll find that your youth athlete will always be ready.

Master the fundamentals.  Too often I see coaches doing the most when it comes to working with youth athletes.  Using unnecessary equipment, or implementing drills that athletes aren’t ready for to name a few.  In my opinion this is done for 2 reasons, to give sessions an aesthetic look, and because many coaches try too hard to keep things fresh for their athletes usually out of fear that monotony will drive them away.  But mastering the fundamentals requires a level of monotonous grind in order to deliver results. Teaching proper running mechanics, emphasizing proper form in the weightroom and  learning how to decelerate, jump & land are all basic athletic skills that require only effort and proper coaching.  Progression for youth athletes needs to be on a continuum that goes from easy, to hard, simple to complex, static to more dynamic.  When coaches expedite this process athletes lose  out in the long run.  Progressing too quickly or using fancy machines athletes aren’t ready for reinforces bad mechanics more often than not.  Mastering fundamentals is about reinforcing the basics until an athlete can consistently show their ready to progress.  This is the only way to properly develop youth athletes.

Lastly, make training fun.  Youth athletics are about experiencing all that is great about sports.  The comradery of the team, the strive for excellence, the communication and leadership skills developed and learning how to compete.  When athletic development becomes a means to an end (scholarships) kids often become overworked and begin to tie too much of their identity to their sports.  It should never be that serious.  Athletic development is a journey of self discovery where athletes can find their strengths and develop their weaknesses.  At the Boost Performance Center we incorporate natural play into training to let athletes relax, and enjoy the grind.  I recommend parents keep it like this also, there’s nothing worse than witnessing a young athlete become burnt out.

So keep youth training simple.  Stay consistent, master the fundamentals, and make it fun.  The byproduct of simplicity will be an athlete who is not only fine tuned and prepared, but also enjoys the grind that is athletic development.  

Coach Bass

Owner, Boost Training Systems

Level 1 & 2 Coach Bommarito Performance

CSCS, USAW