In my experience as a coach and physical trainer, from the lowest level to the highest, I realized that poor technical bases relating to the execution of movements, poor physical and mental technical bases in the approach to training, are limiting factors common to both categories. These limitations can become huge when an athlete has to face the transition from youth level to the national championships. Here follow the consequences: poor levels of performance, inability to withstand the workload required at top levels, an increase in physical stress injuries (tendonitis, muscle strains, ligament tears etc…).
I met several colleagues in the last few years, attending training courses and through private conversations, which pointed out a common problem to me: the need to combine isotonic machines (such as those present in the gyms) and more time, to devote to a good level of fitness.
In the end, my opinion is that machines are only a relative limit and the time is just an organizational matter.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the coaches’ knowledge is more and more important to the physical and mental training of the athletes, especially at the low level, because often there is not enough money to sign professional trainers.
If you are thinking of becoming an athletic trainer of young people, the main aim is to create the right communication channel with the young, who, you have to remember, aren’t athletes yet, in the real sense of the term and please, never take this for granted.
A few years ago I talked to some athletes of a youth team concerning the main aspects of an athlete. I remember that some of these speeches, such as the rest, nutrition and lifestyle in general, were quite “abstract” for them.
How can we blame them, at 13 years old for just thinking of fun?
Despite running the risk of taking on a parental role, I immediately realized it was very important to let their brain understand these aspects, in order to stimulate their minds in the right way.
Moreover they have to be informed about the work they’re doing, because awareness of their actions and their work in accordance with a purpose, is essential in order to turn them into an athlete first of all on the inside, and only then on the outside.
After this first step, which will be difficult and slow, you can start the physical training.
At this point I’ll deliberately skip the subject concerning the basic mobility, coordination skills, etc., but not because they’re not important, as they are indeed, but because my main aim is to reach the point of the matter. At the youth level these issues deserve due consideration, but the question is completely different.
You’ll face several problems which won’t be solvable but only improvable.
For example, if you have to coach a 15 year old boy that starts sport for the first time in his life and which also has serious joint mobility limitations, you can’t expect to make him become a perfect athlete. In this circumstance your main goal will be to transform him in a better athlete.
Genetics first of all, and later previous experiences, don’t help us in our work. Some movements become automatic and as time passes, they become more difficult to demolish and rebuild.
Never forget, we’re not posturologists or doctors. Although it is important to have a good knowledge about these issues we don’t have to think we might take on that role.
However, if you realize that a boy has some physical issues, it might be better to talk with his parents and address them to a professional.
After you have evaluated all these factors, it is important to remember that: before teaching any kind of exercise, whether simple or complex, you have to carefully consider all the problems and the limitations of the guy, what consequences may arise by forcing them to take on a specific new program of motor activities. After this, you can plan a tailor-made training path for the development of the young athlete.