The amount of knowledge that is available for free these days on assessments, monitoring, athletic physical preparation, recovery, bio-chemistry, and so on with regards to athlete preparation is staggering. Sports are changing at a rapid rate with regards to speed of play, and yet the training of our youth and high school athletes has not really changed much over the past 20-30 years. Examples of such changes include no-huddle football, or the speed of elite soccer players and the distances they cover each game.

To learn more about pace in sport, read this blog post from Carl Valle: http://blog.insidetracker.com/pace-breaker-how-biomarkers-move-sport-life-into-full-throttle

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Yes, coaches have implemented the use of speed ladders (looks cool but…), Olympic lifts (often looks horrible and therefore…), functional movement (looks safe but…), and a host of other trendy methods, yet do they ever think about what physical demands these athletes might face in the future and address the physiological adaptations needed to excel at more advanced levels of play?

It is my opinion that in order to maximize the chances of having our young athletes reach their full potential later in their sporting career, we must use existing injury and performance data of elite athletes to guide the physical preparation of the current generation.

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If the distance covered in elite soccer matches is exceeding 12,000 meters, what type of physical work should our high school athletes be undertaking to handle these workloads? If the top speed of elite soccer players is upwards of 37kph, what training needs to be implemented now to maximize speed development and reduce the risk of injury?

When new technology comes out, I believe a lot of coaches get excited and want to jump on the band wagon. However, before even venturing into introductory methods of data collection such as HRV, GPS, and so on, coaches need to ask themselves the following question: “Am I currently doing all I can do WITHOUT additional technology to maximize the effectiveness of my current training program?”

Every coach needs to master the basic tools, which include a stop watch, pencil, paper, and tape measure before seriously considering adopting more sophisticated methods.

Back in the winter of 2013, I was training Owen Marecic, an NFL fullback. For his conditioning work I was having him doing hill sprints, and over the period of seven weeks I timed all of his runs with a stop watch and recorded them all. You can see the results here – http://www.elitefts.com/education/training/short-term-periodization-get-more-bang-for-your-buck/. This did not require any fancy technology, but just by tracking those results we could see if the physical preparation work was having the desired effect.

While elite sport is changing with regards to increased demands in terms of speed, conditioning, competition schedule, and so on, the training of the future generation of elite athletes is not evolving to the same degree. I believe this will lead to an increased incidence of injury in the future because of inadequate and/or inappropriate physical preparation during these athletes’ formative years.

When working with high-level athletes even at the high-school level, the skill of the game is hardly ever their limiting factor. Instead, physical limitations or inadequacies are what will halt their progress later in their athletic careers. To combat this, coaches at the younger levels must continue to educate themselves in the science and practice of systematic training and begin implementing sound basic training programs that will ensure the proper long-term development of their athletes.

I would like to thank my editor Peter Ingleton for continuing to make my words make sense to everyone