Coaching Resource for Developing Athletes
How to develop a young star athlete into an Adult
There are many very talented young athletes out there. Some are capable of incredible performances. eg Girls age 9 that can run 14.0s for 100m, Boys age 9 that can run 2:25 in the 800m, Girls age 11 that can 61s for 400m. etc. Some of these athletes are early developers and have an advantage. Some have very rare talents that could indicate huge potential.
Not all successful adult athletes however were talented as youngsters. Their talent appeared late eg a Boy that has gone from being an ordinary 2:15 800m athlete at age 14 to being capable of 1:53 just 18months later.
A good percentage of adult stars (many female) were however showing talent and importantly a love of the sport from an early age. eg Cathy Freeman, Marion Jones, Tegla Loroupe, Catherine Merry .
It is worth considering some of the characteristics/qualities that an Elite Senior Athlete will need:
A Strategy to develop the above qualities.
Young athletes need to have heaps of variety in their training. Many good ideas are the suggested in the pdf file below which was presented at the ATFCA National Congress in 2001.
The physical value of variety is that it creates development in many different areas. The psychological value of variety is that it is much more interesting for the athlete to complete training that is never routine. This is especially valuable in young athletes. Variety means there is also plenty of opportunity for assessment and competition. My younger athletes love competing against their PBs and each other in anything eg Standing Triple Jump, Standing Long Jump etc.
Many young athletes are in situations where participating in the sport is seen as going in lots of "events" during a given competition day or night. I believe this is a common mistake that will lead to a compromize of technical development and is a situation where there is unnecessary risk of injury.
I believe young athletes need to compete in a variety of settings where they are matched on a performance basis not on age. Competing rapidly gets boring when the competitor is far to strong for the opposition. Super talented young athletes often can get sick of the sport or be embarassed into becoming very lazy in their participation by not being matched close enough in competition. In Sydney there are some competitions that are open to everyone and athletes compete in races of similar ability regardless of being boys, girls, veterans,disabled. I think this is ideal and helps young athletes keep their performances in perspective. I think it is imperative that we would not expect kids to compete more than adults.
The Psychological Development of a Champion is something that is not often discussed. I believe athletes need to develop these abilities by living with an attitude of being willing and able to grow from whatever happens to them. Nearly all champions have grown out of tragedy of some kind in their background. Young athletes need to gradually be guided in a way that nurtures their mental toughness. Some athletes love the sport when all is going well but the moment they have a run of bad races they feel like quitting and many actually do quit instead of growing from the challenge. The skills of looking at life with a positive attitude are things that are taught by the combination of wise guidance from family and from good coaching. It is often these things that an athlete will take away from the sport that will be beneficial in every other area of their life.
Young athletes need to be trained to steadily develop their bodies so they are conditioned to have the physical abilities that are required for the event. At the same time they need to be steadily developing skills and optimizing their technical model for their event. (Getting the body and then learning how to use it) Learning tactics by being taught by wise people and also importantly by learning from their mistakes. Improving technique is commonly compromized in favor of people allowing the desire to improve at any cost to cloud the issue of good planning.
Common mistakes that people make with Talented Young athletes are that they train the athletes to improve their performances and do not develop a big enough variety of areas and maintain enough fun.
eg(2) a Sprinter does 2 Track sessions a week where they do 6 x max starts and 6 x maximum effort 40m sprints then they go home and they race twice a week. They play netball also. The problem is also lack of variety, of lack of endurance training and many other things. If the athlete is talented they may win a National Title off this training but if this is all that is done they will be missing out on many other areas of development. Some people will say that the rest can come later , but the problem is that this repetitive training is likely to be training in bad habits that will have to be fixed later.
eg (3) a Talented 400m runner does no training at all just races
on Friday night and plays soccer on Wednesday and Sunday. Basketball
at school. This regime stays the same from age 11-16.
Learn to run the modern way displayed by Marion Jones , Maurice Greene and other star sprinters.
More information is HERE
I believe this is the best book on Speed Training that is currently available. Steve Bennett
Training to improve "ease of speed" is the missing factor in many training programs.
See more E-books by Oztrack at www.oztrack.com