for elite sports
Jimmy Pritchard CSCS, USAW, XPS
BSc in Exercise Science from Colorado Mesa University
MSc in Exercise Science (Strength & Conditioning) Edith
Cowan University (2020)
With SSCV since 2017 and currently serving as Director of
Strength & Conditioning
Coaching staff (Dan Linsacum, Mark Ryan, and Ryan
Swope) of CMU
John (JC) Cole, and Mike Benedict
Tom Buzbee (PGA)
What is the cumulative stress
that a youth athlete
encounters through training,
competition, and daily living?
How does training youth
What is the training age of the
athlete versus the biological
Early sport specialization and
”Stress is Stress, no matter the form”
”A potential mechanism for non-
functional overreaching is the
additional stress placed on the
youth athlete through external
sources such as schoolwork,
relationship stresses, and pressure
from parents/ coaches along side
the fatigue derived from sports
training.” (Scantlebury et al. 2017)
Look beyond your impact, survey the
10,000 foot view
levels within a
Some athletes may never have structured time off,
attempting to adopt an elite athlete model while
not recovering like one is a recipe for disaster!!!
Youth athlete vs. Adult athlete
-Emphasis on coordination
-Maximal strength, aerobic
capacity, etc. haven’t
reached full potential
-May handle higher
coordination, but more
specific to sport
-Potential to maximize
-Higher work capacity
How young is too young to start training?
Never too young to start coordination
”Just like reading and writing, physical
activity is a learned behavior that is
influenced by family friends, teachers
and coaches.” (Faigenbaum, Meadows
Aim to increase training age in relation
to biological age.
Do not limit nor progress an athlete
based on biological age, consider the
physiology but meet the athlete where
they are at.
Early Sport Specialization
Single sport specialization
not the answer, nor is the
addition of an extra sport
without a bit of subtraction
from the primary.
Attention must be given to
offseason training, new
stimuli, and recovery
Free Play and variability
Mental burnout is real
What the research
Three observations for German national
athletes in all Olympic sports (N = 1558)
have implications for specialization.
Successful athletes participated in more
than one sport either before or parallel to
their current sport (juniors 2.2 ± 1.4; top-
level athletes 2.4 ± 1.6). Approximately 64%
of international finalists and 53% of less-
successful top athletes participated in other
sports. And internationally successful
athletes continued training in other sports
to a later age (27). By inference, specialized
training in the primary sport began later.
HIGHER RISK FOR
ATHLETES. (MYER ET
Elite at an early age, done right
• Continues to spend time
mountain biking, and partaking
in hobbies such as tennis and
• Structured time off of skiing
post-season with an emphasis
• Monitors fatigue and
performance numbers derived
from force plate data collection.
What can we do?
coaches ought to provide the athlete
with everything they need for sport
and training, as well as everything
they aren’t getting.
Injury reduction Sports Performance Better overall athlete If you are not a sport
don’t attempt to be one!
Nick Winkelman: “Training athletes is like pulling
a racecar into a garage. I am not trying to
teach the driver how to race, rather, I am trying
to enhance the car and it’s components which I
hand back to him/her so that they have better
tools to perform.”
We are molding these athletes often from a
Laying foundational movement patterns to be
ingrained for life, take your time and do it
Understand the sport, what’s appropriate,
what’s essential. Do your needs analysis
Battle of the parents
Overzealous: wanting too much, too often, too advanced with their kids
Misinformed: still fear S&C as it “stunts growth” and hurts athletes
Understand how to educate, and teach about enhancing training age
from an early start
Our approach at SSCV
Meet the athlete where they’re at
Establish Movement screens & levels to programs
Spend time at practice and time with coaches to understand demands of the sport
(freeski and hiking)
Continuum for programming. What does our top tier elite athlete need in contrast to
Movement Skill Acquisition
•Movement session: Sprint mechanics, COD, plyos, gymnastics, etc. Not afraid to implement games of
other sports and do trail running, MTB, paddle boarding, etc.
Our approach at SSCV
Tailoring to the needs of
Empower the athlete to
take ownership of their
training and strive for
Be the resource they
Faigenbaum, A. D., & Meadors, L. (2017). A Coach's Dozen: An Update on Building Healthy, Strong, and Resilient Young Athletes. Strength & Conditioning
Journal, 39(2). Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2017/04000/A_Coach_s_Dozen___An_Update_on_Building_Healthy,.5.aspx.
Fort-Vanmeerhaeghe, A., Romero-Rodriguez, D., Lloyd, R. S., Kushner, A., & Myer, G. D. (2016). Integrative Neuromuscular Training in Youth Athletes. Part II:
Strategies to Prevent Injuries and Improve Performance. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 38(4). Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-
Malina, R. M. (2010). Early Sport Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(6), 364-371. Retrieved from
Myer, G. D., Faigenbaum, A. D., Chu, D. A., Falkel, J., Ford, K. R., Best, T. M., & Hewett, T. E. (2011). Integrative training for children and adolescents: techniques
and practices for reducing sports-related injuries and enhancing athletic performance. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 39(1), 74-84.
Myer, G. D., Jayanthi, N., Difiori, J. P., Faigenbaum, A. D., Kiefer, A. W., Logerstedt, D., & Micheli, L. J. (2015). Sport Specialization, Part I: Does Early Sports
Specialization Increase Negative Outcomes and Reduce the Opportunity for Success in Young Athletes? Sports health, 7(5), 437-442. Retrieved from
Myer, G. D., Jayanthi, N., DiFiori, J. P., Faigenbaum, A. D., Kiefer, A. W., Logerstedt, D., & Micheli, L. J. (2016). Sports specialization, part II: alternative solutions
to early sport specialization in youth athletes. Sports health, 8(1), 65-73.
Scantlebury, S., Till, K., Sawczuk, T., Phibbs, P., & Jones, B. (2018). Validity of Retrospective Session Rating of Perceived Exertion to Quantify Training Load in
youth Athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32(7). Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-
Sugimoto, D., Stracciolini, A., Dawkins, C., P. Meehan, W., & Micheli, L. (2017). Implications for Training in Youth: Is Specialization Benefiting Kids? (Vol. 39).
Thorpe, R. T., Strudwick, A. J., Buchheit, M., Atkinson, G., Drust, B., & Gregson, W. (2016). Tracking morning fatigue status across in-season training weeks in
elite soccer players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 11(7), 947-952.