How Youth Athletes get Better

Okay folks, hope everyone had safe trips over the holiday weekend. Here’s a quick one this morning on specific characteristics that differentiate youth athletes. I really tried to skip any vagueness and get down to what exactly makes some kids just look better while playing sports.

As young athletes progress up the ranks in their sport what changes?  Why do some kids fall behind in the sporting realm? What exactly makes someone athletic?

Time and space.

Both decrease as level of mastery increases. Catching a pass, avoiding a defender, and making decisions in less time and space is what decides who can hang and who can’t. Certain sports and aspects of certain sports are an exception. Free throws in basketball and golf are two that come to mind.

How do we get middle school and high school athletes able to dribble a basketball, react to faster, throw harder, get to the loose ball first, or stick handle a puck through a phone booth?

Get faster. How do we get faster? Get stronger. Strength is the basis for everything.

Want to get faster? Get stronger. Do you need to be quicker off the line? A faster first step? How about increasing explosiveness?

Get stronger.

Notice I said stronger, not bigger, not bulkier, not hulkier (that’s a word), just stronger! Weight training does not hurt people. Shitty, irresponsible weight training hurts people. The last thing we want to do with any athlete is injure them. That’s why we take precautions like matching exercises to experience levels and place huge emphasis on exercise form and grooving proper movement patterns.

In addition to inexperience, youth athletes are also dealing with ever changing bodies. Hormones, growth, and puberty all change the way kids feel and move. That’s why it can be beneficial to find a qualified coach to spot things the athlete cannot see by themselves. The difference between feel and real is very wide in youth athletes and a coach can help bring those two things more in line with each other.

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