At NK Fitness we specialise in developing talented youth athletes. They come to us via clubs, schools, parents and even off their own back in some cases. One common question that we get asked is what makes a talented young athlete, and can we maximise their chances of success? This latest blog post identifies some of the characteristics that we’ve noticed in the talented young people with whom we work. Knowing this may help other talented youth athletes to reach their potential.
Where is the talent in youth sports
The vast majority of young performers we work with come via their parents. They are likely to be in a sports club or showing promise at school. More often than not they’ve been identified by sports coaches as possessing more ability that then peers. Parents, and coaches turn to youth strength and conditioning to help maximise their sporting talent. That’s where we come in. In previous blogs we’ve highlighted the primary roles of a strength and conditioning coach when working with talented youth athletes. Firstly, try to make the athlete robust. They need to accrue thousands of hours playing their sport. Being robust to injury and illness is a major part of this. Only then look to develop markers of physical performance.
Clubs and schools are one source of talented youth athletes. However, talent for a particular sport may be laying dormant within many young people. They may be blissfully unaware until one day they try and activity or become motivated to give it a go. Every now and then we get what we call a ‘walk on’. These youngsters show an often sudden desire to engage in strength and conditioning and maybe sports. They are often late comers too. However, their enthusiasm and coachability mean that they develop at a fantastic rate.
The character of talented youth athletes
Our best young athletes are obsessed with doing things well. They understand the value of repetition and doing the basics better than most. They are incredibly coachable. In other words they often only need to be told once or twice what to adjust and then they implement it. As a result they are activity engaged in the sessions. Many others will simply go through the motions – the two versions look the same but they are very different in their rate of progress.
We also notice that these tend to be character traits in our talented youth athletes. Not only are they focussed when it comes to sport, but they can also turn this to other aspects of life too. Excellence as a habit.
How Strength & Conditioning can transfer in a young athletes life
There are many ways in which the S&C environment can develop a skill set that young people can transfer to other aspects of their lives. Lets use the example of weightlifting. Performing weightlifting movement properly relies on a complex blend of strength, mobility and technique. If a lift is missed in training the bar isn’t going anywhere. The athlete often needs to go back in and lift again. They therefore need resilience. An ability to process what went wrong, how to fix it, and get the task done. Such resilience is invaluable outside of the fitness environment too.