1 Million Children Hire Personal Trainers

Coaches Corner by Dave Gleason

As seen in the Pembroke Mariner and WickedLocal.com

1 Million Children Hire Personal Trainers

According to multiple sources, including MSNBC and Newsweek, more than 1 million children hire a personal trainer every year in the United States. The rate of youth obesity and the increased competitive nature of youth sports are cited as the major reasons for this relatively new phenomenon.

It is critical for parents to understand that when hiring a personal trainer for their child’s physical fitness needs, they pay close attention to the trainer’s qualifications and experience related to working with this specific demographic.

The following is a checklist for parents to use when hiring a personal trainer for their child:

1. Ask about the trainer’s schooling and continuing education. A degree in exercise science or related allied health field is preferable. Also, a certification as a Youth Fitness Specialist should be considered a primary requirement. Many nationally accredited certification organizations offer professional trainers education and credentials in fitness or sport training, but only the Youth Fitness Specialist certification from the International Youth Conditioning Association offers a specialized education for personal trainers in the aspects of working with children and adolescents.

2. Ask about the trainer’s experience working with children. Most personal trainers have experience working with adult clients, but only Youth Fitness Specialists have experience and exposure working with children and adolescents for weight loss and sports performance needs.

3. Ask to watch the trainer in action working with children. Personal trainers should be happy to have prospective parents view a training session in order to ascertain how well the trainer relates to children and adolescents.

Coach Dave Gleason, owner of Athletic Revolution in Pembroke instructs trainers, coaches and parents for the International Youth Fitness Association. For more information on the qualifications, experience and philosophy a youth fitness trainer needs to have call Gleason at 781-312-7808 or visit his website www.athleticrevolutionsouthshore.com.

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Coaching from the sidelines

Coaches Corner by Dave Gleason

Coaching from the Sidelines?

“Youth sports are big business selling big dreams. And, the denial runs deep among sports parents.” At least, that’s the word from Aisha Sultan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article that is garnering national attention.

If your children are involved in sports, you’ve probably seen this denial. It usually manifests itself as an angry parent yelling at his young child from the sidelines. This scene has become so common that hardly anybody pays attention anymore. And that’s alarming.

It’s not just that these parents are a distraction. They can be downright dangerous. We’ve all heard stories of parents getting into physical altercations with other parents, referees, umpires, and coaches. Other times, it is more subtle. There is a reason why doctors have been reporting more and more overuse injuries in younger and younger athletes.

While the reason for increased parent “participation” isn’t entirely clear, it may have to do with the notion that big businesses, such as year round travel leagues, have effectively sold the idea that they can make any child into a college or professional sports star. This is a lie.

“The notion that you can train your child to become a college athlete is unrealistic,” says Mark Hyman, the author of “Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms our Kids.” Realistically, the percentage of high school athletes who go on to play college sports is about 5 percent. Far fewer get full rides, and very few of those scholarship athletes even make it to the pros.

“Unfortunately, the real reasons to involve children in sports have been lost among many parents,” said Timothy Ward, Operations Manager of Athletic Revolution International, a rapidly growing youth fitness franchise organization.

Those reasons would include physical and mental health and development, teaching youngsters how to work as a team, and developing leadership skills that are valuable throughout life. A pipe dream of a big fat paycheck from a professional sports organization isn’t on that list.

“Athletic Revolution was founded on sound scientific principles of growth and development.  Children are not professional athletes, neither physically nor emotionally, so we shouldn’t treat or train them like they are,” said Dave Gleason, owner of Athletic Revolution in Pembroke. So, please, when it comes to youth sports, let kids be kids.


For more information on effective coaching or training for young athletes, contact Dave Gleason, the head coach of Athletic Revolution at 781-312-7808 or by email at info@athtleticrevolutionsouthshore.com

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Youth Sports Burnout

Coaches Corner by Dave Gleason


Youth Sports Burnout



Around the age of 6 (sometimes younger) our children begin to explore recreational sports. The experience of playing youth sports often continues throughout high school. Soccer, basketball, football, lacrosse, hockey and lacrosse are extremely popular.

In a recent article by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics it is stated that PLAY is so important for optimal child development that it has since been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.

What has happened?

The change in youth sports has been influenced by the gradual collapse and near death of physical education combined with lack of free play after school.

Physical education has largely become more about learning particular sports as opposed to learning movement skills, body awareness, coordination and whole body strength. Because of the sensationalism of media coverage pertaining to crimes against children most parents are fearful of allowing their kids go outside and play, ride their bikes to a friends house or team practice or simply walk down the street to play a “pick up game” with neighborhood kids. Statistically crimes against children are as low or lower than that of 1968. That said, most parents are frozen with fear and don’t have the time to supervise.

The fact is that organized sports, to no fault of their own, have taken over what used to be a time of creativity, movement exploration, sports idol emulation and just plain fun. Now volunteer parent coaches have the task of teaching the sport technically and tactically as well as condition the kids to be in good enough shape to play. Hats off to the these ill-equipped warriors that are trying to do their part.

Coupled with the drastic rise in youth obesity and secondary illnesses such as early onset diabetes and depression, sporting has been many well intentioned parents fall back position to increase exercise frequency at all costs.

Now the common perception is that the more sports practices and the more variety in sports a young child has the better. The outcome is very often 5-7 days of practices and or games per week.

More work, less play.

Some kids absolute love sports and they excel at them.

Athletics is not the enemy here. What we are turning them into is. Even the most accomplish young athlete is a growing developing human being that needs to approach youth sport from a developmental stand point.

Young athletes that begin to show a certain aptitude for a particular sport are most often more developed than their peers in certain aspects of movement skill and or conceptual functions of the game.

The dictionary definition of burnout is: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

Here are 10 ways to avoid youth sports burnout:

1.) Time off – When did it become common practice to allow our kids to practice in structured settings 5-7 days per week and play in multiple games per week year round? Do not give in to the fear that if a young athlete takes a break they will be left behind. In they are really that skilled they will still make the team.


2.) Stop – Two full time sports in one season was to much for one of the greatest athletes of our life time, Bo Jackson. So why would we subject our young athletes to the same physical and emotional stressors of 2 competitive sports? Limit sports participation to one sport per season if possible and keep weekly practice frequency for kids 6-13 to a maximum of 2.


3. Remember – Coached sports practices will help increase skill sets for that sport. Without a proper foundation of movement skills a young athlete will development improper movement patterns resulting in a lack of performance and even injury. A balanced approach to physical activity can increase injury resistance and performance.


4.) Be free – Free play in the context of this discussion is playing uncoached and unorganized by adults or coaches. Playing will often times do more for overall athleticism and creativity on the field, court or ice than any other method.


5.) Take a good look – The practices and games are not the only part of a young athlete’s life. School, practice, homework, eating and sleeping are at the top of the task list. What about social development, down time, play time and time just to be a kid time. Far too often parents allow their young athletes to participate in so many activities during the week that they don’t have any time to just be…a kid.


6.) Being the parent – Sometimes the toughest part of being a parent is saying no to our children. The word no is not always a punishment even if it feels unfair or makes a young athlete temporarily unhappy. When your young athlete is your age, they will be thanking you for saying no at the right times.


7.) Training like a pro – Every great athlete that you can name grew up playing several different sports and taking time off from all sports. Year round training is now the norm for most sports rather than the exception. Full year competitive soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball or enter your own sport is not only ill-advised…it is dangerous. A professional athlete has a mature muscular system, has stopped growing and takes time off from their respective sport to rejuvenate, recover and heal. Many young athletes practice with more frequency for longer periods of time than most professional athletes.


8.) Don’t specialize to early – Early specialization can under cut the natural development of a young athlete. Development and fun are the goals, not young sports superstars.


9.) Education – A young athletes development is analogous to our education system. A young boy with an ability in 1st grade math cannot skip over 2nd – 6th and begin 7th grade algebra. Skipping over steps in regards to human movement skill works the same way. Fundamental skill development must be of priority and must be progressive in nature over a long period of time. Once one skill is mastered the child can move on to the next.


10.) Keep it fun – The current paradigm is that the more sports the better. Unfortunately, youth sports are serving the purposes of keeping kids busy and out of trouble, getting them in shape or preparing for possible financial assistance for college.


The next time your young athlete complains about going to practice keep this in mind:




Relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.




Dave Gleason is owner of Athletic Revolution on Winter Street, co-author of Youth Speed Development as well as the International Youth Conditioning Association Trainer of the Year. Coach Dave consults fitness trainers from around the world how to effectively train young athletes for long term success. For comments or questions Coach Gleason can be reached at 781-312-7808 or coachdave@athleticrevolutionsouthshore.com







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Pembroke Mariner & Reporter: Train Like a Pro; Are we hurting our kids?

Coaches Corner

Training Like a Pro;  Are we hurting our kids?
By Dave Gleason

There is a malady that is running a muck in the hyper competitive world of youth sports.  The well intentioned and yet ill conceived notion of “more is better” that modern society places on young athletes in an effort to be at the top of their game is not getting the results that were intended.

Parents, trainers, coaches are involving children in more specialized programs adding to over scheduled youngsters that are improving marginally, getting burnt out and suffering from over use injuries.  The result is an increase in non trauma related injuries due in part to a lack of fundamental skill development.

According to the NCAA an average of only 0.16% of all High School Athletes ascend to play in the professional ranks.  With these kind of odds, one would think the primary focus of activity for our young athletes would be that of overall development and fun.


Men’s Basketball

Women’s Basketball



Men’s Ice Hockey

Men’s Soccer

High School Student Athletes







High School Senior Student Athletes







NCAA Student Athletes







NCAA Freshman Roster Positions







NCAA Senior Student Athletes







NCAA Student Athletes Drafted







Percent High School to NCAA







Percent NCAA to Professional







Percent High School to Professional







Source:  National Collegiate Athletic Association

What is in the best interest of your young athlete is to take a snap shot of an average day or week in its totality.  6 to 7 hours of school followed by 1 and sometimes 2 separate sporting practices, homework and then off to bed all to be repeated is not uncommon.  Add in lack of sleep, poor nutrition and no social outlet and this example paints a very scary picture.

Yes society has changed.  Yes there is a lack of free play and more emphasis on academics.  Yes there is a shift from recreational sports to high pressure select and travels teams.  There is one constant: Kids are still developing, constantly changing human beings and should be dealt with accordingly.

So what is a parent to do?

1.)  Slow and safe before fast and fancy. Beware of any program, team or skills clinic that does not have at its base a well rounded variety of fundamental skill development.  The younger the athlete, the more basic the activities should be with even more emphasis on encouragement and fun.

2.)  Be age appropriate. Look for programs that treat your young athletes right.  6-9 year olds should be exposed to outcome based coaching.  This type of coaching is rooted in encouragement while allowing the young athlete to discover movement or sports skills.  10-13 year olds should be introduced to outcome based coaching as well with about 25% more actual coaching of skill sets with simple instructions.  Young athletes ages 14 and up should be coached with more emphasis on skill development with injury prevention and long term success and the primary goals.

3.)  Cut it out. 3-4 soccer games in one day is excessive.  Practices 6 days per week for 2-3 separate sports teams is a very real scenario and should be avoided.  A young athlete in this situation engages in more structured practices that professional athletes and they are headed injury.  Reduce an over loaded schedule to allow for rest, recovery and time to just be a kid.

4.)  Think long term. Over specializing and over scheduling will place a premature cap on achievement as well as cause over use injuries.  Developing even the best of young athletes takes time and no short cuts can be taken.  Allow and encourage playing several sports to minimize repetitive motion injuries and over compensation

Let’s use our education system as an analogy.  A child who seems to have a knack for mathematics would not be encouraged to drop other subjects and only concentrate on math.  Once more, having great success in mathematics in 1st grade would not result in skipping grades 2-6 to engage in 7th grade algebra.  Skipping steps will only result in a lack of ability and an increase in the risk of injury.

When in doubt think of moderation and variety with as much time for un-coached play time as possible.  No matter the age…play and fun is a great way to stay active.  As stated above if the odds of “going pro” are limited so make sure you think of your child someday being in his/her 40’s with kids and still loving exercise.

Dave Gleason is owner of Athletic Revolution on Winter Street, co-author of Youth Speed Development as well as the International Youth Conditioning Association Trainer of the Year.  Coach Dave consults fitness trainers from around the world how to effectively train young athletes for long term success.

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Every Sports Parent’s Nightmare


Over Specialization in Youth Sports
By Brian Grasso

You’ve heard the term ‘Sport-Specific-Training’ before, correct?

Well, let me give you the cold hard facts… It doesn’t exist.

Especially not with young athletes.

When working with preadolescent and high school athletes,
the undeniable reality is that we are tending to an organism that
is in the process of growth.

And that fact is something that we cannot do anything about, nor
cause disruption to the process of.

What a growing and maturing body needs in order to remain injury
free and develop optimal athletic skill is variety.

With respect to training, this amounts to NOT having a hyper-focus
on making a young athlete a better football player by only doing
exercises in the gym that the NFL players would do.

The strongest and fastest athletes in any sport are the ones who
had the greatest diversity of training while they were young.

And believe it or not, this means that the training program for a female
soccer player shouldn’t deviate that much from a male baseball player.

In time, yes, more specific training programs will be necessary to
maintain or improve upon the strength and power needs for a specific
sport or position – In time being the operative point.

As a general rule, throughout high school, roughly 70% of a young
athletes training program should be based on general fitness and
athletic ability.

Brian Grasso is the founder and CEO of the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association) and a world leader in youth fitness and athletic development.


Please send this post to EVERYONE you know…it is that important!


Til next time,

~Coach Dave

PS.  For even more information check out this article from my friend and collegue George Maoury (Matthews, NC).




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3 Myths of Coaching Youth Sports

Here is an article that I wrote that was just published in the Pembroke Mariner & Reporter:


3 Myths of Coaching Youth Sports

How to Coach Your Team to Success


Being a coach of a youth sports team puts you in a position to make an indelible impact on the children you are coaching.  This is true if you a good coach, or a poor coach.  Here are 3 myths in relation to coaching the young athletes you are lucky enough to be in charge of 2- 3x per week.


1.       The LOUDER the better!

Considering that young athletes are making nearly 2-3 decisions per second on the court or field – “helping” make those decisions from the side lines does not produce the affect we are often looking for.  Limiting situational teaching to controlled scrimmages (at the end of a practice) or during a dead ball situation will help the children you coach make an informed decision the next time around. 


Also keep in mind that depending on the age of the young athlete, conceptual ideas such as passing the ball are literally not on their little radar screens.  6-9 year olds, for example, are egocentric in nature so thoughts of giving up the coveted ball or puck will not happen until their developing brains have reasoned that scenario out.


2.       Using exercise as a punishment will teach them.

Never.  Kids play sports because they are fun.  Our role as coaches and mentors is to set them up for as much fun as possible in the hopes that they play again next year.  Young athletes will become adults.  The experiences they draw from their childhood will play a major role in whether or not they choose to be active or not later in life.  Being driven into the ground with exercise because of lack of performance or behavior should be avoided.  A monkey can make a child sweat.  It takes a coach to help them become better.


At the beginning of your practices make sure you take 3 minutes to lay out what the expectations are for practice including behavior.  Outline what you will be doing and what you expect.  Ask each athlete if they agree so there is no misunderstanding.


If a situation does arise, ask them if they remember the expectations they agreed to, tell them they need to adhere to those expectations and continue practice immediately.  If there is a second occurrence have the player sit in a designated spot and continue practice.  You will be amazed at how well this technique works.


3.       Correct technical mistakes as soon as possible.

Common sense tells us this is a true statement.  The fact is a young athlete possesses a brain and central nervous that is far and away smarter than we are.  A young athlete inherently knows when they do not perform a skill correctly…especially when we a.) Don’t give them an accurate demonstration of how the skill is supposed to look and b.) Have not taught them the correct way of doing it with set guidelines.


If you ask a young soccer player to dribble through a set of cones with no teaching of the skill or guidelines and the player does so – Praise and encourage them EVEN THOUGH it might not have looked the way you envisioned it in your head.   Doing so will avoid goal confusion and foster confident, creative players on your team.


What are your thougths on the subject?

I want to know!

~Coach Dave


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Youth Fitness and Sports Performance Advice…

The following is an excerpt from World  Re-known Strength Coach Mike Boyle.  Mike is highly respected and quite literally considered the best in the WORLD at what he does – prepare athletes to reach their absolute best.  When the best trainers and strength coaches have a question…they go to Mike.

Recently Coach Boyle was asked a question about strength and conditioning for a 9 year old hockey player…by the way training for hockey is one of Mike’s specialties. 

Here is the question and his response:

Last week I received the question below

Q- I need to put together a summer plan for my 9 yr old hockey team.
Obviously I don’t want to look like a crazy person, but it would be
something that I think could be good for my own kids as well. Is it
too young?

My first reaction was to say “are you crazy”? Instead, slightly
tongue-in-cheek I developed the plan below.

Step 1- play another sport. Lacrosse is highly recommended as it
has similar skills to hockey although baseball is fine. This does
not mean another sport in addition to hockey. Summer is the off season.

Step 2- Cancel all hockey camp registrations except 1 week. Pick your
favorite that has the largest number of your friends attending and go
to that one. Ideally look for a camp that only has you on the ice once
a day. No need to get blisters. You won’t get better in a week anyway.

Step 3- Cancel any summer hockey leagues you are scheduled for. The best
players in the world never play summer hockey and, they never have.
The only conceivable exception would be a weekly skill session lasting
one hour. Another exception would be “play”. If ice is available and
the kids can play, let them. Please remember play means NO COACHES

Step 4- Reread steps 1-3. Acknowledge that the key problem in youth
sports is applying adult values to children’s activities.

Step 5- Go to the nearest bike shop. Get nice bikes for everyone in
the family

Step 6- Ride the bikes, not in a race. For fun. Maybe put a few
hockey cards in the spokes to make noise.

Step 7- Head to Walmart and buy fishing rods.

Step 8- Take the fishing rods to the nearest lake and fish.

Now That is an off-season plan for any nine year old.

Step 9- repeat steps 5-8 while continually rereading steps 1-3


Just in case all of you thought is just me who approaches youth fitness and athletic development differently…did that sound familiar?

At Athletic Revolution we view youth athletic development, sports performance and general fitness as LONG TERM endeavors.  You will not find sport specific training in our facility.  What is emphasized is developmentally appropriate programming that encourages natural progressions in strength, mobility, coordination and movement efficiency.


Our classes are FUN.  What the kids soon realize is that the fun they are having is actually allowing them to teach themselves how to move better and with less injury.  The training is multi-dimensional so it addresses several different needs of young athletes.

Stronger and faster in 6 weeks is easy.  Lasting skill development that results in better performance in sport and in LIFE is our mission.  We not train young athletes…we coach young human beings.

What do you think?

Do you agree?

Do you disagree?

I want to know!


Til next time,

~Coach Dave

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