The Art of Coaching Youth Athletes

Being able to play a role in the development of Youth Athletes is a privilege as a Strength & Conditioning Coach. In my latest article co authored with James Darley, which was published on Juggernaut Training Systems, we examine how to streamline our coaching cues by understanding learning styles and developing context for our Youth Athletes to use when they are learning new movement patterns. Check out the article and let us know what you think!  

You've Lost The Weight: Now What?

The roller coaster of weight loss can have its ups and downs, but when we finally get off and hit our goal the feeling is amazing. The challenge is when we hit our goals what do we do now? Brandon Lavack, of Lavack Fitness, invited me to contribute to a stellar article answering that tough question. Check out my take, as well as the 17 other top Fitness Professionals who contributed to this epic article!  


The altitude training mask may look bad ass and "totally" make you look like Bane, but is it optimizing your workout or actually DECREASING your performance? To read more about this hotly debated topic, check out my latest article co authored with James Darley, here on Tony Gentilcore's Site 

Get Uncomfortable To Succeed

The value of internships cannot be overstated. Over my current undergraduate career, I have done three internships on top of three years of employed coaching. Those three internships have all occurred within the past year.

I decided last fall that in order for myself to really grow as a coach, I had to get uncomfortable. What I mean by that is, I had to put myself in an environment I had zero familiarity with. I had been flirting with the idea of becoming a collegiate strength and conditioning coach, and one of my mentors, Jack McCormick, assisted me in setting up an interview with Northeastern University. I was able to land that internship, and become a stranger in a strange land.

During those months I got bombarded with tasks, duties, and coaching that I had never done before. This daily uncomfort was what developed me as a coach, and lit the fire to constantly get better. I learned more about coaching and exercise science, in one semester at Northeastern S&C Department, than two and half years at school. I did this at the expense of my income, availability to study (full time student), as well as my social life. I began to learn how to be uncomfortable. This raw lesson has helped me tremendously not only in coaching, but in my own training and personal life. If we stay comfortable we will never make any great gains or strides forward. An object at rest will stay at rest. I apply that law everyday in the form of my educational development, as well as coaching.

My current view of myself as a coach is an apprentice. I know for some that may kick their ego in the balls, but for me I embrace it. In the medieval era, apprentices generally kept that title for 7-10 YEARS. The often touted 10,000 hours to mastery, equates to that similar 7-10 year number. For me, this is my career, one that I aspire to become a master in. I whole-heartedly accept, that to get to the point of mastery, I will need to be uncomfortable, struggle, fail, dust myself off, and learn to pull myself up.

This is why internships are absolutely paramount in the success of young coaches. This does not mean any position titled “internship” will revolutionize our abilities. When searching for an internship, focus on the programs intern education practice. Does the facility have a dedicated curriculum for their interns? Are there weekly in services for interns to attend given by staff, or outside coaches/practitioners? Do they allow interns practical experience on the floor with clients and athletes? These are the essential questions, and criteria to follow in searching for an internship that will challenge us, and make us feel uncomfortable.

At the end of everyday, if we do not feel that we have been challenged or put in an uncomfortable environment, the amount of growth possible will be greatly limited. If our goal as coaches is to reach mastery, than we must strive for this feeling. By owning these environments and situations, we will exponentially increase our growth potential, leading us closer and closer to mastery of our given field. Arriving upon mastery does not mean we are done, in essence we are just beginning, however, we now have the ability to inflict change within the field due to our greater understanding of its entire DNA and Hard Wiring.   

For more information on the concept of mastery, I highly recommend Robert Greene’s Mastery. This book has dramatically changed how I view my quest towards this coveted title. 

Health and Fitness Articles From The Past Week July 26th

Below are some excellent articles that go over olympic weightlifting programming fundamentals, coaching the power clean, power lifting wrist wraps, and post workout ice therapy. I hope you enjoy these great reads! 

4 Pillars of Weightlifting- Mike Nackoul

Mike Nackoul's theme of the article is finding the middle ground between over-complication and simplification of Weightlifting programs. He touches upon this by explaining the roots of successful programing by breaking down the fundamentals of Weightlifting into Exercise Selection/Variation, Training Load Management, Prehab/Rehab/Mobility, and Technique. 

7 Most Common Power Clean Technique Mistakes- Will Fleming 

Will Fleming's article from several years back details the issues most coaches and athletes run into with this complex movement. Fleming provides great material for people to fine tune their setups, and optimize their ability to execute the lift.  

Powerlifting Equipment 101: How to Use Wrist Wraps- Tony Bonvechio 

Tony Bonvechio explains the benefit of wrist wraps for lifters, and goes into detail about properly using them. Make no mistake, putting these wraps on correctly can have a huge impact on our lifts. At the beginning of every new season, the legendary Coach John Wooden, would teach his players how to properly put on their socks to prevent blisters. The details matter, and Tony does a great job outlining them.

You Got Guru’d: Postexercise Cold Water Immersion- Bret Contreras 

Bret Contreras touches upon a concept that many of us thought was beneficial for our recovery. We've all seen the top athletes taking ice bathes after intense workouts, but was that actually improving their recovery, or hindering their strength gains? Contreras goes over a recent study that showed that cold water immersion decreased strength adaptations. 



Health and Fitness Articles From The Past Week

Below are some of the stand out articles from the past week. They range from the weight room, youth development, and coaching development. I hope you enjoy the wide selection this Sunday! 

6 Ways To Be A Better Coach Today - Mike Robertson 

This is a must read for any young coach, but also has merit for the coaches who have been in the trenches for quite some time, and are looking to shake things ups. One of Mike's points on "believing in your athletes" hit home for me. As a coach working with young kids, they need someone who will be there to guide and support them through their time in the weight room. It is often times a place that is completely foreign to them. Try and think of a time when you walked into a situation with zero prior experience. Terrifying as hell right? Well that is often what every young wide-eyed kid feels staring into the weight room. Mike hits the nail on the head with this point of "believing in your athletes." 

How “Movement Age” Impacts Program Design - Mike Reinold 

As coaches, we often examine someone based on their chronological age or training age. Mike Reinold goes beyond that, and looks at their ability to go through the standard movement patterns; hinge, squat, lunge, step, rotate, push, and pull. There comes a point when an individuals chronological or training age gets thrown out, and goes back to square one, if they cannot go through those patterns with some form of proficiency. 

Broken Windows and First Impressions: How Anything Means Everything - Adam Feit 

This piece uses a classic crime study, and applies it within the weight room. The general theme of the article is that details and integrity are paramount. I learned that while interning at a collegiate weight room that was spotless 24/7. This attention to detail will not only spread amongst your co workers, but also your athletes. If they walk into a spotless weight room, day in and day out, that will set the tone for their ACTUAL workout.  

Where the 'elite' kids shouldn't meet - Tim Keown 

Everyday now I hear about and see kids going to "Elite" camps at ages 10, 11, 12. By no means has anyone at that age come close to any shape or form of complete development to be given the title "Elite." It has become a very slippery slope that parents are falling down, but more importantly the kids. In an era of entitlement, shoving kids into these "Elite" camps will only perpetuate the myth that the world owes them everything. 

Biofeedback: Bogus or Brilliant? - Travis Pollen 

I've been hearing a lot about Biofeedback in regards to the major lifts, and this article breaks it down in an extremely simplistic manner. I have begun to use different forms of it in my own training, and it was great to read how Travis interprets how to go about utilizing it within your own training. 

Grow Like a New Lifter Again? - Greg Nuckols 

This is a BEAST of a read. Not for the average joe for sure. However, if you're sitting down, and have some time to kill it is a MUST read. 

HICT Method To Improve Oxygen Utilization In Type Two Muscle Fibers

HICT Method Utilized To Improve Oxygen Utilization By Type Two Muscle Fibers

This is an example of how to improve the aerobic system by using the High Intensity Continuous Training method (HICT). Unlike HITT, where the intensity is high/volume low, HICT training keeps intensity high/volume high. 

The exercise here is using a heavy weight vest and performing controlled, paced step ups, for 10-15 minutes. This type of conditioning works on improving the oxygen utilization of your fast twitch muscle fibers. Why is this so useful? Genetically we are all born with a specific ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch fibers. By using this method we can improve the endurance of our genetically predetermined fast twitch fibers by making them more efficient at using oxygen to create more ATP (currency of energy). 

This is incredibly useful for individuals that use fast twitch fibers, sprinters, power lifters, to name a few. If we can improve the fast twitch fibers endurance we can prolong their effectiveness at performing the necessary activities that demand their usage. 

As a side note, they're rather boring, which is why I listen to an audiobook during it. All though Metallic is welcomed as well.