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Considerations for training young athletes--->, FF Insider#89
April 15, 2010
Welcome Back,

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Inside this Issue:

To bring you the very best information, this newsletter focuses on awareness of the training principles for young athletes, and how to use them to make sure your coach is on the right track. Enjoy!

1. A Coaches Dozen: 12 FUNdamental Principles for Building Young and Healthy Athletes

2. The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: A Closer Look

3. Team Pittsburgh Aviator Girls Win National Championship

4. Two Finish First Sports Performance athletes win NCAA Division 1 Hockey Championship.

5. Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic 2010

6. The Finish First Sports Performance 'Total Performance Training for Youth Ice Hockey Clinic', May 22, 2010

7. Motivational Quotes

8. Miscellaneous News

A Coaches Dozen: 12 FUNdamental Principles for Building Young and Healthy Athletes

Faigenbaum, Avery D EdD, CSCS*D, FNSCA;
Meadors, Larry PhD, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT

Author Information
1Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey; and 2Sports Spectrum Training, Burnsville, Minnesota

Avery Faigenbaumis a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey.

Larry Meadors is director of training at Sports Spectrum Training.



Millions of school-age boys and girls in the United States participate in recreational and interscholastic sports. Under the guidance of a qualified youth coach, young athletes can learn the technical and tactical skills of a sport, gain confidence in their physical abilities, develop leadership qualities, and work toward a common goal (9). Furthermore, youth coaches who model appropriate behaviors and develop a coaching philosophy that is consistent with the physical and psychosocial uniqueness of young athletes are able to teach positive lifelong lessons to young people they inspire. But how much confidence should parents have in a youth coach who has no basic understanding of pediatric exercise science or believes that young athletes are simply miniature adults?

With the possible exception of physical education teachers and pediatric exercise specialists, few youth coaches are educated in pedagogy, kinesiology, or exercise physiology that specifically address the training requirements of children and adolescents. And even with advanced coursework in these fields of study, it is difficult to keep up-to-date with current research in the fields of human motor development, athletic conditioning, and sport psychology. Although there is not enough space here to adequately address all of these issues, it is important to understand a few principles, which we refer to as FUNdamental (7). Rather than focus all of their efforts on technical skills and sports performance, youth coaches need to genuinely appreciate the uniqueness of childhood and adolescence while valuing the importance of having fun, learning something new, and sparking a lifelong interest in physical activity.

So what exactly do youth coaches need to know about training, teaching, motivating, and developing young athletes? Our response is the “Coaches Dozen,” which is our list of 12 principles that youth coaches should think about. Although some of these principles are well supported by research in the fields of pediatric fitness, sports medicine, and developmental psychology (4,6,8,10,12,13), others are based on our combined 50 years of experience in teaching and coaching youth. The list is not meant to be definitive or complete, but simply a collection of principles that will help youth coaches build young and healthy athletes. For ease of discussion, the terms “youth” and “young athletes” are broadly defined in this column to include the years of childhood and adolescence.

1. Young athletes are not miniature adults. No matter how big, strong, or coordinated a young athlete is, youth coaches must realize that children and adolescents are still growing, developing, and maturing. Therefore, youth require a specific approach to physical preparation for sports participation. What constitutes an appropriate training program for a young athlete is determined by an individual's neuromuscular training, posture control, movement mechanics, psychosocial maturity, and one's level of physical development. College programs and adult training philosophies (e.g., “no pain, no gain”) should not be imposed on youth who are physically and psychologically less mature than older populations.

2. Value preparatory conditioning. A youngster's participation in sport should not start with competition but rather evolve out of preparatory conditioning and instructional training sessions, which address individual weaknesses and areas in need of improvement. Inadequate physical preparation or “training errors” (i.e., too much too soon) are common themes in most overuse injuries in young athletes (10). Owing to increasing levels of childhood obesity and an apparent decline in free-time physical activity (i.e., play) among youth, the supporting structures of aspiring young athletes may be ill prepared to handle the demands of sports training and competition. This concern may be particularly important for aspiring young female athletes who appear to suffer more sports-related knee injuries than men (11). Although the total elimination of sports-related injuries is an unrealistic goal, some observers suggest that both acute and overuse injuries could be reduced by 15-50% by addressing risk factors associated with youth sport injuries (10).

3. Avoid sport specialization before adolescence. Broad-based participation in a variety of activities during the primary school years and perceived sports competence during childhood are related more to adolescent physical activity and fitness than early sports specialization (2,3). Moreover, participating in several sport and exercise activities seems to decrease the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, which are more often associated with single sport participation (1). Young athletes should be exposed to a variety of sports and exercise activities in a variety of settings with different young people so that they can discover what they enjoy while maximizing their physical, psychological, and social development.

4. Enhance physical literacy. Parents, teachers, and coaches must work together to educate “physically literate” youth with a positive and fun approach. Youth coaches should value the importance of improving motor skill competence and its role in enhancing athleticism. Fundamental locomotor skills (e.g., running, skipping, and hopping) and object control skills (e.g., throwing, catching, and striking) that require agility, balance, coordination, and speed form the foundation for more advanced sport-specific movements later in life (3). Of note, fundamental skills must be mastered before sport skills. Aspiring young athletes who become proficient in fundamental motor skills and perceive themselves to be more skilled are more likely to participate in challenging activities and find sport participation more enjoyable than youth with low motor competence (2).

5. Better to undertrain than to overtrain. Training young athletes of any age involves balancing the demands of “hard” training (required for adaptation) with the need for less intense training (also required for adaptation). Although any coach can make an athlete tired, successful youth coaches understand and value the importance of developing quality movement patterns and enhancing exercise technique with less intense training sessions. A well-planned and balanced schedule of practice, training, and competition will optimize development throughout an athlete's career.

6. Focus on positive education. Youth coaches who catch young athletes “being good” and publicly praise them for their performance on a specific drill or exercise can enhance their self-confidence as well as the quality of the practice session. Give young athletes a chance to succeed and help them understand what is expected of them. In turn, they may be more likely to see mistakes as part of the learning process and use failure to enhance their motivation. The most important motives for youth are to develop and demonstrate physical competence, gain social acceptance and support, and have fun (14).

7. Maximize recovery. Youth coaches need to pay just as much attention to what is done between practice sessions as to what is done during practice sessions. Sports practice, competitions, and conditioning activities place a great amount of stress on young athletes. The importance of adequate recovery needs to be reinforced regularly because a “more is better” attitude is counterproductive and will likely result in injury, illness, or burnout (5). Recovery strategies can include an active cooldown, adequate hydration, proper nutritional interventions, appropriate relaxation strategies (such as socializing with friends), and at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

8. It is not what you take, it is what you do. Coaches and young athletes are bombarded with creative advertising from sports nutrition companies that seem to “guarantee” gains in muscle size and performance. While recognizing the importance of proper eating, sensible nutrition, and adequate recovery, young athletes should realize that the best ergogenic aid is regular participation in a periodized training program under the tutelage of a qualified youth coach.

9. Get connected. Successful youth coaches are good listeners and exceptional communicators who understand individual needs, abilities, and idiosyncrasies. Take the time to learn every athlete's name, address any concerns, provide encouragement, and show a genuine interest in every player. The training session should be both stimulating and challenging while providing fun and enjoyment. A young athlete who feels connected to the coach and to the team is more likely to make friends and follow instructions and therefore less likely to disrupt practices or engage in negative behavior. “Substitute coaches” who do not form partnerships with their players will have a very difficult time motivating young athletes and inspiring them to achieve personal goals.

10. Make a long-term commitment. Although some observers want immediate results and seek “quick fix” solutions to problems they may encounter, a long-term athletic development plan is needed to optimize performance, reduce the risk of sports-related injuries, lessen the likelihood of “dropout,” and produce elite-level athletes. Unfortunately, some youth coaches and parents overemphasize competition at a young age and approach training and skill development with little or no interest in a young athlete's long-term athletic development. There are no shortcuts to athletic success. Well-informed observers suggest that it takes 8-11 years of training for a talented athlete to reach elite levels (4,6).

11. There are no secrets. There is not one optimal combination of sets and repetitions or one magical grouping of exercises that will enhance athleticism in all young athletes. Rather, it is the systematic and sensible progression of program variables over time, along with qualified coaching and levelheaded support from parents that will determine the outcome of our sport programs. There are no secrets, shortcuts, or stealthy training methods of proven efficacy that can guarantee athletic success. A long-term commitment to proper training and skill development is required to provide a pathway to produce elite athletes.

12. Never stop learning. Being a coach with good intentions and a willingness to work with children and adolescents is not enough. Coach education is the foundation of long-term player development. Youth coaches need to learn from their own experiences; read peer-reviewed journals; attend professional conferences; and talk with well-respected coaches, health care providers, and strength and conditioning professionals. The most successful youth coaches are willing to change old habits and be taught new skills. By learning more about the art and science of coaching school-age youth, coaches will be better prepared to help their athletes become the best they can be by adapting training sessions to each individual's chronological, developmental, and training age.


1. Auvinen J, Tammelin T, Taimela S, Zitting P, Mutanen P, and Karppinen J. Musculoskeletal pains in relation to different sport and exercise activities in youth. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40: 1890-1900, 2008.

2. Barnett L, Morgan P, Van Beurden E, and Beard J. Perceived sports competence mediates the relaationship between childhood motor skill proficiency and adolescent physical activity and fitness: A longitudinal assessment. Int J Behav Nutrition Phys Activity 5: 40, 2008.

3. Barnett L, Van Beurden E, Morgan P, Brooks L, and Beard J. Does childhood motor skill proficiency predict adolescent fitness? Med Sci Sports Exerc 40: 2137-2144, 2008.

4. Bloom B. Developing Talent in Young People. New York, NY: Ballantines, 1985.

5. Brenner J and Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout in children and adolescent athletes. Pediatrics 119: 1242-1245, 2007.

6. Ericsson K, Krampe R, and Tesch-Romer C. The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychol Rev 100: 363-406, 1993.

7. Faigenbaum A. Fundamental fitness in children. ACSM Health Fitness J 2: 18-21, 1998.

8. Faigenbaum A and Westcott W. Youth Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. pp. 8-16.

9. Martens R. Successful Coaching (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2004. pp. 17-28.

10. Micheli L. Preventing injuries in team sports: What the team physician needs to know. In: Chan K, Micheli L, Smith A, Rolf C, Bachl N, Frontera W, and Alenabi T., eds. F.I.M.S. Team Physician Manual (2nd ed.). Hong Kong, China: CD Concepts, 2006. pp. 555-572.

11. Prodromos C, Han Y, Rogowski J, Joyce B, and Shi K. A meta-analysis of the incidence of anterior cruciate tears as a function of gender, sport, and knee-injury reduction regimen. Arthroscopy 23: 1320-1325, 2007.

12. Rowland T. Children's Exercise Physiology (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007. pp. 21-42.

13. Stodden D, Goodway J, Langendorfer S, Robertson M, Rudisill M, and Garcia C. A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity: An emergent relationship. Quest 60: 290-306, 2008.

14. Weiss M. Motivating kids in physical activity. President Council Phys Fitness Sports 3: 1-8, 2000.

Article from NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal, Vol. 32, #2, April 2010, pages 99-101.

The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: A Closer Look

By Emily E. Novitsky, BS, CSCS, Finish First Sports Performance Athletic Performance Specialist

According to the CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) 17% of all youth ages 2-19 are considered to be obese. This number is at an astoundingly high percent and increasing ever year. As a professional in the field of fitness and sports performance that is a scary number. Therefore in this particular article I will be discussing what it means to be overweight and/ or obese. Not to mention the contributing factors for the high rate of childhood obesity and what we can do as parents, coaches, and fitness/sport performance professionals to help stop the disease from affecting more of our youth.

According to Wikipedia overweight is defined as having more fat than is optimally healthy. According to the BMI charts overweight is a range of 25-30. BMI or Body Mass Index is measurement that compares weight and height. By using a simple calculation of weight and height you can then plug this number into a chart to find out the individuals BMI. However BMI is not optimal way to mark individuals as either obese or overweight because it does not take into consideration the different body types of individuals or the % body fat of the individual. The golden roles on predicting fatness of individual is by measuring skin folds with a caliper, by using the bodpod, and/ or underwater weighing. For financial purposes the least expensive way to measure % body fat is using skin calipers. Percent body fat is the measurement of fat on an individual’s body. For youth males a %body fat of 20-24% is considered overweight. Than for youth females a %body fat of 25-30% is considered overweight. The following ranges do not take into consideration the activity level of the youth. If the youth is involved in sports the optimal body fat percentage will be lower.

Thus Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent to may cause adverse effect on one’s health leading to reduced life expectancy and/ or health problems according to Wikipedia. The BMI for obese youths would be 30 or more. A youth male would be considered obese with a % body fat over 25 ,and a youth female would be considered obese with a % body fat of 31 or above. As I mentioned before the best way to asses if the youth is obese or overweight is measure there % body fat with skinfolds. This can be done by any credible fitness/sports performance professional.

Now that we have determined what is overweight and obese lets discuss how our youth are involved in such a dilemma of obesity. The contributing factors are:

• Behavioral Factors- Dietary intake, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behavior

• Environmental Factors- at home, at school and in the community

• Genetic Factors

Behavioral factors such as lack of fruit/vegetables in the diets of the youths. Another example would be for a high calorie diet. Dietary intake has been a big issue for our youth. There has been a neglect to following our governments own guidelines to food intake. An additional problem would be the lack of healthy home cooked meals. The American diet is grossly out of proportion and high in fat/sodium. Most meals served at restaurants are double if not triple the correct serving sizes. Not to mention high in calories from extra fat and sodium. The next behavioral factor affecting our youths would be lack of physical activity. Some kids are involved in sports however the majority are not. There is also an increase in the removal of the Physical Education classes from school. These are all contributing factors to the decrease in physical activity of our youth. Not to mention the increasing popularity of the internet, video games and the television. These are all contributing factors to a sedentary lifestyle which is directly correlated with obesity.

The next factor is Environmental factors an example would be the lack of support at home to eat well and stay physically active. The parents have to be aware of what the child is eating and participating in. If the kid is not eating a well balance diet and not participating in daily physically active then they will start to gain weight and eventually become overweight and/or obese. It is our jobs as parents and professionals to see to that our youth is staying active and eating a well balanced healthy diet. As I mentioned before that some schools are also cutting there PE programs from school or cutting back on the time of the classes. This creates a greater decrease in physical activity of those who do not exercise or play a sport on their own. The last factor is the community. For instance local sports teams or after school programs/camps are also decreasing in quantity and size. Therefore the kids that would not be able to be active outside of school and home are also downsizing.

The final factor is Genetics. Genetics are now being researched as a new contributing factor to childhood obesity. The recent research shows that being obese can be a genetic disease. Some kids already predisposed to overweight/obese and they have to work that much harder to overcome this epidemic. As a final point I would like to discuss the prevention/ reduction of the childhood obesity epidemic. What can be doing to help prevent/reduce of this epidemic from taking over our youths. First of all we need to implement a healthy well balance diet to our youths. “You are what you eat.” The government has wonderful tool to help with the implementation of a healthy diet for your youth just got to There you will be able to find the daily recommendations and other healthy tips/tools. The second objective would be to encourage physical activity with the youths. Either by playing a sport or getting out and playing outside. Our Youths should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. (which means 3-4 days a week) The third recommendation would be reduce sedentary time. Get the youths up and moving either in or out of the house. Turn off the computer, TV, and video games and get them active.

In conclusion, I would like to ask you to help me and Finish First Sports Performance with our fight with childhood obesity. As a nation we can come together and fight this disease before it spreads to a full-fledge epidemic across our nation. The youth is our future of our nation and it our job as parents and Fitness/ Sports Performance Professionals to help them secure a healthy future. If you have any additional questions about obesity or any of the topics that I have mentioned in the article feel free to visit or call Emily or Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Team Pittsburgh Aviator Girls Win National Championship

The following article was posted on the Team Pittsburgh website.

Finish First Sports Performance is proud to have worked with these girls to prepare them for their season and keep them conditioned in preparation for the championships. Congrats to all the girls, coaches, and parents involved!

04/12/2010, 4:07pm (EDT)

By Aviators

Congratulations to the Team Pittsburgh U14 Girls hockey team for winning the USA Hockey Tier 1 National Championship. This is the first team from the Pittsburgh area, boys or girls, ever to win a USA Hockey National Championship.

On Sunday, April 11, the U14 girls team defeated the defending national champions, Assabet Valley (Boston, MA area), by a decisive score of 5-1. The game was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This is the fourth year that Team Pittsburgh has been the girls section of the Pittsburgh Aviators. Congratulations to the girls and to Coach Greg Carter on his sixth national championship.

Team Pittsburgh is extremely pleased that Coach Carter will return next season to coach the Team Pittsburgh U16 Girls Team as they are poised to make a run at another national championship.

Two Finish First Sports Performance athletes win NCAA Division 1 Hockey Championship.

Pat Wey and Parker Milner, both from Pittsburgh, earned their spots in the history books as Boston College defeated Wisconsin 5-0 in the NCAA Championship game on Saturday, April 10th, 2010. Congratulations guys!!!

Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic 2010

On June 18th and 19th, 2010,Coach Hoy will be presenting again at the annual Pennsylvania State Strength and Conditioning Clinic, at Juniata College. This is one of the biggest and best clinics in the country, and Coach Hoy has been presenting since 2001 on topics such as hockey strength and conditioning, speed training, slideboard training, and training with sleds and ropes.

For more information about this excellent clinic, please visit the Juniata Strength Site .

Total Performance Training for Youth and High School Ice Hockey Clinic Spring 2010

Due to some scheduling conflicts, the clinic originally scheduled for April 24th has been moved to May 22nd.

The coaching staff at Finish First Sports Performance would like to announce the Total Performance Training for Youth and High School Ice Hockey Clinic, Spring 2010. The event is slated to be held on May 22nd, at the Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters (Pittsburgh, PA, USA). The details about the event are below, and are not set in stone, yet. These details will be finalized in the next 2-3 weeks, including price, time of day, and speakers/clinicians. Space is extremely limited, so if you are interested in attending, please let us know.

Some of the topics to be covered:

• Learn how to correctly prepare during the off-season

• Information specific to hockey players ages 8-18 (age appropriate training)

• Specific evaluations/assessments for detecting imbalances and weaknesses, including self-evaluations and assessments

• Dietary strategies for gaining weight, losing weight,or maintaining weight

• Training for power, speed, strength

• Plyometrics for ice hockey

• Conditioning for ice hockey (bikes vs running vs skating vs slideboard)

• Flexibility for ice hockey (static vs dynamic, when, why, band, partner, etc)

• Exercises for a harder, more accurate shot

• Goalie specific exercises on the slideboard

• Dynamic Vision Training Exercises (track the puck better)

• Samples of how to properly train to get ready for the next season (sample programs)

• Learn about proper nutrition, sleep, performance training, skating, stick-handling, mental focus, leadership, athletic development, etc.

Plus Hands-on demonstrations and experience

This is a must see clinic, and remember--space is extremely limited...we most likely will only have room for 20 people to attend.

If you are a parent or coach looking for the 'How-to's' of off-ice hockey training, then this is the clinic for you!

Motivational Quotes

"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it."
-- John Wooden

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another."
-- Walter Elliott

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
-- Winston Churchill

"In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is."
-- Anonymous

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

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