How many times do we set out to achieve something and then not quite make it?  The vast majority of people fail to achieve their health and fitness goals.  Recently we have found that this affects talented young athletes as well as adults.  Whilst the reasons for this shortcoming can be long, it often comes down to a mismatch between the goal and the level of effort that the athlete is willing to apply.   So why is it that talented young athletes can struggle to adapt to the level of training that may see them achieve greater heights?  Here we explore some of the challenges that face a talented young performer when they consider making the next step in performance.


Talented performers versus elite young trainers

Talented young performers are not elite young trainers.  A high level of competitive performance is not indicative of an outstanding approach to training.  Youth level sporting performance is simply a comparison with their peers.  Young people can exhibit superior performance without being dedicated to the training process.  However, in order to maintain that high performance status, the young athlete will need to engage in supplementary training outside of the sport.  The elite young trainer will engage in this process to help them get better.

Sporting talent and prowess is just one small part of the process to realising their potential.  They shift their focus towards a training process rather than just competitive outcomes.  For example, an elite young trainer will engage in some form of age appropriate strength and conditioning.  As a result they are required to make sacrifices and display a high level of maturity.  So why is it that some talented youngsters are unable to make that jump to elite trainer?


Challenges facing talented young athletes

In our experience many talented young performers can find it hard to engage in an age appropriate elite approach to training.  Often there is no shortage of commitment or desire to reach a higher level of performance.  Like many of us they are enthused by goal setting and realising their potential.  But even with everything mapped out and a programme in place, the young athlete experiences similar barriers to adherence as the adult.  Unless they are at a specialist, high level sports school they are not surrounded by lots of elite young trainers.  Therefore going to training straight after school when all their peers are jumping on the school bus is difficult.  Coming off of social media early to get enough sleep or missing out on parties because of sporting commitments is also tough.  Often these things are too much.


Helping young athletes make a transition

Turning a glimpse of sporting talent into an age appropriate elite training programme does not happen overnight.  At NK Fitness we work with a number of talented performers and have learned to approach it in stages.  All the while matching it to the maturity of the athlete.  We will front load contact sessions to show athletes how to execute their strength and conditioning properly.  Programming cannot be too prescriptive or comprehensive early on because this can be overwhelming.  Allow athletes a term to get used to the idea of performing additional training.  Once they’ve established a level of self discipline and a training habit then sessions can become more prescriptive.  At the end of the day though, the drive has to come from them – you can lead the horse to water … but you can’t make it drink.