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The Parent Trap

600full-the-parent-trap-photoThere are certainly pros and cons to training in the private sector. One of the biggest positives is that I enjoy working with young athletes. I believe that the type of training we provide is very beneficial for youth athletes, where we can really teach and program good motor patterns so that as they continue to grow.  Thankfully, many parents and athletes see the benefit of the work that we do. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is when parents and athletes rave to us about how much of a difference they see in their physical abilities.

However, the opposite end of the spectrum also happens to be the biggest negative of the job. There are always the parents out there that feel that their kids just aren’t working hard enough. They see their kids getting rest or doing technique drills and blow a fuse. Or they see their 12 year old doing BW RFE squat and ask why we aren’t using heavy dumbbells and barbells.  It is your job as a coach and professional to educate, but it is also your job to make money and satisfy clients. So how do you appease the parents that want a college strength program for their 12 year old?

The Great Divide

Unfortunately, this is something I deal with reasonable frequently. While I know I can help these kids, once financials are brought into the equation, it can really muddy the waters. Myself and my staff can usually be pretty creative in the methods we use to appease these parents, and we can always do some hard fitness work at the end. The strength training is the great divide.

There has been a lot of research and debate in the past 2 decades about when it is safe for kids to start handling weights. For my money, body weight exercises like pull ups, push-ups, BW rowing, SL squatting, RFE squatting, glute ham raise, glute bridging, planking, ect, can all get the job done safe and effectively. It is really not worth the risk for injuring these kids to appease the few overly aggressive parents.

Regardless of what research tells us in the future, I see no reason at all that any kid under the age of 14 ever needs to have more than 20 pounds in his hands for anything, and even that might be pushing it. I don’t care how early they developed, how tall they are, how strong they are, or how much they eat. You are playing with the lifelong physical development of a human being, and if you can’t take that seriously and put some thought into, then you need to reconsider your client base.

I’m Too Good for That!

Surprisingly (or not?) the most problems I encounter are from the parents of the most talented athletes. I am sure there are some connections there we can speculate on. With athletically gifted kids, I hear a pretty common phrase “My kid is beyond this movement training”. Unfortunately I must disagree. We can absolutely always be drilling technique on our sprinting, planting/cutting, jumping, bounding. Obviously as athletes become more proficient, the intensity level goes up. Even in my college program we spent loads of time drilling first step quickness, lightning quick change of direction, single leg jumping/landing drills, ect.  I was dealing with physically developed Div I athletes and getting great results. So tell me why again your 12 year old can’t benefit from this? Because he is the starting point guard on his rec league basketball team?

Some parents just want their kids to be pushed, and I understand. There are some great lessons to be learned in developing our minds and bodies with physical work. It is on you as a professional to educate, to mentor, to coach, and to lead, but in order to do that, you need to educate yourself first.

At the end of the day, my biggest weakness is patience, and in this field, my patience is something that gets tested every day. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, smile, and realize you are not going to satisfy everyone. If some parents want you to do things that you are not comfortable with, and no amount of reasoning can change their mind, then it is best that they seek out a different product.

We have parted ways with a few clients over the years for these very reasons, and I will say, it was pretty satisfying when, a few weeks later, some return after testing the waters at another facility, claiming how dangerous and unorganized the other program was.

Patience friends. Stick to your values and be patient.

2 Responses to The Parent Trap

  1. digger07 August 19, 2015 at 6:03 am #

    Our training facility is a “No Parent Zone” area. Safe, effective exercises which reinforce proper movement mechanics and technique are our main focus. We do “conditioning” activities which seem to please the parents. Kids sweating equate with happy parents. We train a USSF Academy soccer team. This session, my communication levels with them are more frequent. Explaining why you are performing a technique drill, or strength exercise to them, just might get back to their parents.

  2. Michael Peters January 11, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    I have had many, MANY parents sit and watch (quietly) when I work with their kids, paying very close attention to what we do, only to have them drop out of the program to coach them themselves. They watch a few videos on youtube and feel that they know it all now. A few have sheepishly returned, after performing poorly in their respective sports, but I think that this will occur again and again, with at least one or two parents.

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