I became a youth sports coach to help youth to become better athletes so that they can choose their own path; because that is what I needed when I was their age.
Do you, or the youth in your life, struggle with confidence, trusting the process, injury, understanding your own biochemistry, navigating life-sleep and nutrition and balancing academics, sport, and social life? Me too! As a teen, I was unsure of what to eat to support the body and achieve the sport goals that I wanted. I had no understanding of the importance of quality sleep. My basketball, field hockey, and track coaches gave me conflicting advise for training and, as a teen, anything my parents offered I immediately dismissed because it came from them—I mean, what do parents know? :).
I’ve Been There
I didn’t find my way until after college when I hired a trainer/sports coach who listened to me and made me feel like I could reach lofty goals. She helped me to lose weight and gain the body I needed to become a competitive triathlete. Since then, I have always worked with a sports coach to guide me toward becoming the best version of myself. I have been able to accomplish so much more as an athlete than I ever dreamed possible.
In my business, I have been privileged to work with so many amazing young people. As a youth sports coach, sometimes kids come to me with a very clear goal like getting into the Air Force or Naval Academy, or achieving a specific 2k score in rowing to get scholarship offers. But many times kids come to me unable to articulate what they really want. This may be because they are afraid to want something that is really difficult to accomplish because they don’t know how, or they may be confused about what it means to play their sport at the next level, or some kids don’t really even have a sport when we start working together—they simply know they want to feel better in their body.
One of my favorite stories is working with a young athlete who was about to start high school. His parents thought he could pursue swimming. So we started training and I taught him the basics of lifting and then the Olympic lifts. It turns out he was a natural at the Olympic lifts—very powerful, explosive lifts. I suggested he try a sport that is very explosive. So he went out for track and field and began throwing shot put and continued to throw in college. Along the way, we talked about Chemistry (a subject in which I happen to have 3 degrees, including my doctorate). He also majored in chemistry. I am not saying that I can steer kids toward certain majors, I wouldn’t want to, unless its what they love. I think what I have the privilege to do as a youth sports coach is to develop real relationships with kids where I learn about who they are and help them feel confident.
When I was growing up we played outside everyday no matter what—rain, snow, sunshine, we didn’t care as long as we were playing. There was no such thing as a “youth sports coach.” Nowadays, there is such an emphasis on having kids in club sports and streamlining them into one specific sport and position. This starts the process of repetitive stress so early. Instead of trying to shift the paradigm of youth athletics, I have found the best way to work within the system is to incorporate a strength and conditioning program that is specific to the individual. It so important to start to learn and manage our own body, and a great youth strength coach can go a long way toward this goal.
Individualized Youth Training Programs
One of the worst things I see is when youth sport coaches try to implement group strength training. This is really where things can go wrong for lots of kids. Trying to find a plan that fits everyone is recipe for disaster – especially for youth athletes who are growing. A program designed for everyone is really a program designed for no one. Youth experience bodily changes rapidly as they grow into their adult bodies. I have worked with young boys who have grown 10-12 inches in one year. Forcing kids to lift the same weights for 100 reps (yes, “hundreds day”) while trying to figure out how to “be” in their new bodies is great way to cause damage at the growth plates which can lead to life long injuries. As I teach all my athletes, it is best to stay in your own lane, but since I cannot convince all of the youth sport coaches to do this, I offer a comprehensive individualized coaching platform to help athletes specifically learn their own body.
Our youth training programs include a full movement assessment where we begin the process of addressing functional body building. At Coaching by G, each youth sports coach knows that learning movement requires the full attention of each athlete, which cannot be accomplished in a group setting. In group settings, people tend to compare themselves to others, rather than to just try to figure out the best way for them to move. Learning your own body is incredibly important for building mental and physical toughness toward achieving greater goals. In addition, developing confidence and body awareness is crucial for all youth. These are all areas that a youth sports coach should take seriously. We take into account the age and goals of the individual. We design training and lifestyle programs based on your movement, your goals, your ability, your weak areas, your strengths; in other words, your program is only about you.
Training with G gives young athletes the attention they just cannot get in a group setting. Time in the studio delivers an opportunity to focus on the individual athlete, with individualized goals and personal attention. This attention helps athletes develop in their sport and in their lives, gaining the confidence they need to achieve their goals.
Group strength training at any level is never geared toward the individual. Finding a program that meets you where you are is the best way to avoid injury and to get better all around as an athlete.
If you would like to see the amazing things you can accomplish with a dedicated youth strength coach, I encourage you to sign up for a free 20 minute consultation to see how we can help you crush your sport, nutrition, and life goals!
Stay Strong with Giulia Isetti, Ph.D.