We follow famed youth training coach, Mike Bolye’s, youth development program and philosophy. Below is a snippet of his thoughts on youth sports and training, and FitWit General Manager, Josh Guerrieri, also gave an interview on the same topics that you can watch here. 

Dear Coaches and Parents,

Youth sports do not look like they used to. The world of youth athletics has become unbelievably competitive. In fact, TIME Magazine recently reported that youth sports has become a $15.3 Billion industry.Over $4 Billion a year are spent on personalized training and coaching for young athletes in the United States alone.This shows the huge emphasis people have put on today’s youth athletes and their performance in their sports.Youth sports have changed from being a fun pastime to an ultra-competitive enterprise. Well-intentioned parents and coaches shift their focus to wins and trophies at the expense of fun and development.

Professional sports success and NCAA scholarship awards are parents’ dreams…pushed by these youth sport enterprises.

NCAA schools now hand out $3 billion in scholarships a year. And even though only 2% of high school athletes go on to play Division I college sports, it hasn’t stopped coaches and parents pushing these youth athletes, no matter what their age, toward that goal.

Parents are being made to feel like they need to have their child ‘keep up with’ every other youth athlete, so their child doesn’t get left behind. Club sport and travel sport coaches are pushing the need for every kid to have to play year round in order to have a chance to get a scholarship.

This is what leads to early sports specialization.

“Although 88% of NCAA Division I athletes played an average of 2 to 3 sports prior, parents and athletes are being led to believe that children must focus only on one sport in order to succeed.”

Youth strength training and models of athletic development have become hot topics thanks in part to this shift. This has caused a growing interest in long-term athletic development for youth athletes.

Appropriate exercise selection is also crucial for those young athletes who are often physically underprepared to tolerate the demands of sports.

These high volumes of competition with an absence of preparatory conditioning is causing risk of overuse injuries and burnout. This then leads kids to leave sports at an early age. With this model, many young athletes, like late maturing kids for example, are not even given the opportunity to reach their potential due to lack of playing time early on.

The facts about early sports specialization that many parents, coaches and organizations don’t know can significantly affect a child’s sports experience.  For example, researchers from numerous scientific studies have found that young athletes who participated in their primary sport for more than 8 months in a year were more likely to have overuse injuries.

In order for strength and conditioning professionals to help all youth athletes achieve their full potential, we must develop safe, effective, and balanced programming for them to thrive.

So, what can we do as coaches and parents?

First, understand that not all sports programs have the child’s development as their main priority.

Next, we must educate ourselves. Find out what is happening in the youth sports industry. Discover what is fact and what is fiction from all of these hot topics, and get the real applicable science in youth athletic training so that we can develop the ‘complete’ athlete for the long term.

Educating the parents of young athletes is crucial, as they are the ones who ultimately decide what is best for their child.

So, that’s why we follow Sports Performance Expert, Mike Boyle’s Complete Youth Training Program. It’s built on the latest research and proven protocols to use when training kids in youth sports today.

Bottom line:

  • We value age-appropriate strength training and proper movement over flashy and gimmicky training.
  • Intense training for kids at too early of an age presents a real risk to the long-term athletic development.
  • Early specialization in sports can cause burn-out and increase potential for injury.
  • Although we’d love to have your child in our program, we ask you to think hard about balancing your child’s schedule to ensure enough down time (especially in sports season).