Training Young Athletes…EASY?

From time to time I read an article that deserves a response.  Trainer and educator John Izzo from Connecticut posted an article on his blog on November 8th.  The article is titled “10 Reasons Why Young Athletes Are Easier To Train Than Adults”.

A response to his article was written by Brian Grasso, Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association.  His response article is posted as a series and you can read it here:   Brian Grasso’s Response Article

Brian’s article systematically explains his thoughts on Mr. Izzo’s 10 reasons – one at a time.

I actually agree with John Izzo…sort of.  Here is my own memo on this issue:

You can read the entire article here.

The premise that training one demographic over another could be ‘easier’ is a question that invokes thought. Any attempt at promoting contemplation of what fitness professionals do and furthermore how well they may or may not do it should be applauded. That said, I wish the article pointed to the differences and unique challenges of working with clients of varying demographic was of more emphasis rather than who has it easier. This article is a well written and thoughtful commentary however I disagree with it on several levels.

My thoughts and comments as they relate to each of the 10 points Mr. Izzo declares are of no consequence for this memo. I would likely precede any comments by bringing to light my disagreement with the very premise of his article. Oddly enough, I need to agree with Mr. Izzo in order to make my argument.

It IS easier to get results from a young athlete compared to the general adult population…depending on the results you are looking for.

Comparing results that any trainer would experience training the “general” population versus that of a young athlete has no merit if the results in question purely are biometric in nature.

Because young athletes are developing (growing) human beings, biometrics such as strength, speed and power will increase with virtually any training stimulus that is presented to them.

If we delineate between biometric evaluations of performance and that of movement proficiency and the principles of human development, what is illustrated is the fallacy that training young athletes is an easy way to become lucrative in the fitness industry. This thought process is one of the problems with our industry – no matter what market niche is chosen.

Mr. Izzo’s opening question serves of my main point of contention. “How can 2 professionals with almost similar approaches to program design experience different outcomes on the training spectrum?”. SIMILAR approaches (not the same exact approach) and ON THE TRAINING SPECTRUM (in this case completely different training populations) cannot be fairly compared because they are mutually exclusive.The notion that the results attained by one over the other does not lead to ease of task, only the possibility to the ease of results.

It takes a very special person with an education to match his/her passion to train and coach adults to reach their fitness goal. It takes an equally exceptional person with the knowledge of how to work effectively with young athletes that elicits long lasting skill development and athletic intelligence. In addition, does it not depend on the temperament, belief system and education of the individual trainer to determine which is easier?

Post Script: Training young athletes is not inclusive to the ages of 12 to 24 only. An accomplished professional will be providing quality programming for children 6-9, 10-13 and 14-18 years old. Once more, there are far more children who do not fit the mold of “elite athlete” than those who do. Training a low skill low motivation young person is a challenge that will rival the difficulties of training any adult clientele.

Let me know what YOUR thoughts are on this one!

Til next time,

~Coach Dave


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