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Performance Training for Student Athletes - How to Choose a Trainer

Choosing a trainer for your student athlete seems simple enough right? You go to your local gym, sports center, etc., and participate in their "performance training" program. I mean, it's one-stop shopping, you go to the facility anyway right? Your student athlete can train, get their extra coaching and practice in, and oftentimes, like at SwingFitt™, you can get your workout in too.

That said, I've been training more and more tweens and teenagers these days, and an increasing number of them are girls. As an athlete, a trainer, and a woman, I'm super excited about this trend! However, it's come to my attention that for these young women, my being a woman is equally as important as being a good trainer for them. So, I started thinking about why would a parent choose to have their athlete train with me over someone else?

First, fitness training often requires trainers to put our hands on our clients. Trainers will have to spot and sometimes hold onto your athlete for safety purposes, and to help him or her execute the exercises with proper form. Trainers may touch hips, legs, shoulders, chest, and sometimes head and neck.

Understand that by no means am I saying that any trainers have inappropriate intentions, but being touched by a man might make your young daughter uncomfortable. It might make your son uncomfortable to be touched by a woman. Either might make you uncomfortable as a parent.

So, before starting to work with a trainer, it's important to consider if you want a male or a female trainer working with your child. Ask your athlete if they have a preference, and make sure you both are comfortable with your final choice.

Second, can the trainer relate to your child? Is your child a competitive athlete, or just needs some extra confidence to try and get out there? For example, I've been a teenage girl and a competitive athlete. I understand the desire and drive to succeed young athletes have, as well as the social and physical struggles surrounding body issues and overall confidence which tends to affect young women. Physical strength and a competitive nature in girls and women can be branded as unfeminine, so loving your athleticism and your femininity can be tough. I get it.

Conversely, I've never been a teenage boy, so consider the goals you have for your athlete, their personality, and talk to your perspective trainer about his or her background. Ask why he or she believes they can help your athlete accomplish their goals.

Finally, physical conditioning is no joke; it can be truly hazardous to young, developing bodies, so finding the right fit for your athlete really is extremely important. In fact, I recently travelled to Chicago for a baseball tournament with my son, and met a 15-year old pitcher who was wearing an arm brace -- metal hinges and all. I asked him what happened, thinking it was from being over-pitched or the like. But no, he injured his arm trying to max out his deadlift, had 200 pounds on the bar; 50 pounds more than his previous weight. Since the bar was too heavy at 200 pounds, he overcompensated with his arms and tore ligaments in his elbow. He works out with a trainer at his local

performance center, and due to that trainer's irresponsibility, his injury may end his ability to pitch competitively. At age 15.

At SwingFitt™, we don't use traditional weights, and personally I no longer lift or train power lifting. In my experience, I have learned that while there is a time and a place for weight training, and I don't recommend it for young athletes. Parents, we need to remember that our kids are still growing; young athletes are growing muscle everyday as part of maturing, and at SwingFitt™ we work with their existing muscle, teach it to work more efficiently, so they can increase their athleticism. It's called "muscle memory," and when taught properly, muscles will remember for life, even as they grow. In addition, lifting weights produces testosterone, and therefore it can affect hormone balance in young bodies. Coupled with the over-building muscle, which can cause inflexibility, and lead to injury, we implore you to proceed with caution!

At the end of the day, the SwingFitt™ philosophy is that it's not necessary to "pump iron" to become stronger and more agile. Our SwingFitt™ trainers live and breathe that philosophy, our clients' results are proof that our program works without it. Our goal is to build strong and healthy minds, confidence, while we're developing strong and healthy bodies. All in all, an age-appropriate balance of cardio to increase endurance, and using individual body weight to strengthen young muscle as it grows and develops, with fitness tools like the RMT® Club and BOSU®, are equally as, if not more, effective for young athletes.

Injury can change everything for a young athlete with goals and dreams; it did for me, so above all else, research and ask questions. Select a trainer and a fitness program that works not only with your schedule, but with the goals and needs for your athlete - physically, mentally, and philosophically.


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