Jan 29, 2015
Youth Is Served

ryanjohnson-head.jpgBy Ryan Johnson

A summer strength program that incorporates middle school athletes… an exchange agreement with a local speed-training guru… there’s a lot going on in the Wayzata (Minn.) High School summer conditioning program.

I have received a lot of phone calls in regards to the summer program and I have noticed that the majority are coming from the parents of our middle school athletes. They want to know about supervision and methods of instruction, etc. As a parent myself, I can’t blame them–I would want to know the same things.

The volume is a bit more than I would like but that comes with the territory. I was talking about this with a colleague who asked why I included this age group in the program if it was going to be so much work. This led to an interesting discussion about several topics that we deal with when training athletes in our neck of the woods.

The first point I made about why I want to train middle school kids is that it’s important to keep them active in the summer. Obesity levels are way up and making fitness a lifestyle is something kids can never learn early enough. The middle school physical education teachers who work with our program in the summer love having the extra time to continue their lessons about the importance of exercise and nutrition.

Not only does keeping them active promote a healthy lifestyle, I feel it’s also important to teach them how to train the right way at a young age. The earlier these kids learn the techniques of training the better we all will be at the high school as they come to us understanding the terminology and methods of training.

However, we are very careful to stress to parents and kids that we do not care how much weight these kids are lifting–we care more about the form they use to lift the weight. We constantly stress technique and this helps our programs out immensely over the years.

Another important aspect of our youth training philosophy is that we want the kids to buy into the “Wayzata Way.” Our varsity coaches want to see their future teams training at our facility. As I discussed in previous blogs, coaches can be a tad territorial and want their athletes, no matter the age, following the school’s training philosophies.

Prior to having the middle school aged kids training with us, this was a problem for some coaches because a lot of the younger kids were training off-site. I personally have nothing against off-site training facilities, but it can be an issue with some high school coaches. This particular subject led my colleague and I to a further discussion regarding off-site centers and personal trainers in general.

As I mentioned, we do not feel that we have all the answers here in the Trojan Power strength and conditioning facilities, however, we do know what our coaches want. I do my best to keep the waters calm between the various sites and our coaches, as many of my friends work at these centers and do a great job with athletes and kids in general.

We are certainly very lucky to have a wonderful strength and conditioning program that the majority of our sport coaches take advantage of. I do get a lot of contacts from outside training centers that offer to bring their services to our kids, and we certainly don’t shut them out, but we have to be careful because it can get very crowded around here.

Through trial and error, and sometimes just plain luck, we have developed a pretty good formula for working with outside training services and have developed a number of symbiotic relationships. For example, in the winter we really don’t have any place to run so a couple local training centers invite our athletes to condition at their facilities. In the summer, the situation is reversed and we allow the trainers from those facilities to utilize our resources.

I have received several calls this spring regarding our kids and the various services that our kids could use for a fee. Our district policy is that we do not allow outside entities to come in and charge our student-athletes. What we can do is work with places that want to volunteer their time and resources with our kids in a barter system.

I am in the process of finalizing a deal with a local training center that specializes in speed training. This particular site trains several Division I and professional athletes in the summer and they don’t have enough room to train all of their talented thoroughbreds. We are working on a plan that would invite them to utilize our facilities when we aren’t using them, and in return, they work with our varsity athletes for free. This way no money would change hands and our kids are receiving top notch speed work for free. It will also be exciting for them to sit on the sidelines and watch some of the best in the business working out on their home turf.

This is certainly a best case scenario for us and I think it will become a reality as we have done similar barter deals in the past. But to think of a young middle school boy watching James Laurinaitis, a former Wayzata Trojan who now plays for the St. Louis Rams, working out in front of him on our turf gives me goose bumps–I can only imagine what it will mean to that kid and all of his teammates …. hopefully the motivation for a couple of state championships.

You can reach Ryan Johnson with your questions or blog ideas at: [email protected].

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