Questions a Parent Should Ask Before Choosing a Sports Performance Trainer

Questions a Parent Should Ask Before Choosing a Sports Performance TrainerWith the early specialization and the increasing competitive nature of sports today, parents are turning to alternatives such as speed and agility, strength and conditioning classes, or sports performance centers to help their young athletes gain an edge.The problem that many don’t understand is that sports performance is one of the most unregulated fields in the health industry. For all the good it can do, choosing the wrong individual can have a negative impact on an athlete’s performance and health. While there are several professional area Sports Performance coaches, there are others without an Exercise/Sports Science/ Kinesiology educational background, some without certifications, and others that claim experience as an athlete qualifies them to train young athletes.

I decided to investigate what advice Top Industry Professionals/Organizations are giving parents in their search for a competent sports performance trainer for their young athletes. (see references below)

What is the background of the trainer? If you are going to trust and pay a coach, you have the right to ask about their qualifications. Look for training with degreed and certified coaches and experience training young athletes.

Ask about the screening process to start? If the trainer doesn’t ask about medical history, doesn’t ask about current and previous injuries, and doesn’t conduct a fitness assessment, you should look elsewhere.

Does the trainer have malpractice insurance? Since this area is unregulated by state law, there is no licensing or requirement that sports performance trainers carry insurance in Ohio.

Are the training groups small and age specific? Speed, agility and quickness are skills. They must be acquired like any other skill; through perfect practice. Small groups insure that trainers give specific feedback to each athlete to make sure the drills are done correctly. Age specific training groups make sure that athletes are taught in a developmentally appropriate way. An 8-year-old and a 15 year old athlete have different needs and different skill sets. They shouldn’t train together.

Is technique priority number one? Don’t worry about how much weight your athlete is lifting, worry about the technique they use. Good coaches always have athlete safety on their mind and an exercise done improperly is not worth the time spent doing it.

Do they have a system for measuring results? Each trainer should have an objective way to show you gains made during their training program. Athletes use this data to gauge their own improvement and performance coaches use this data to measure the efficacy of their training curriculum.

Are the coaches smiling? Good coaches are role models for young athletes. Positive reinforcement and feedback should be used by coaches that train youth athletes because a positive environment fosters learning.

First check out the training? Check out several Trainers and watch the training sessions before your commit. Ask for a couple trial sessions, so you can experience the training before making a long term commitment.

References:
STACK Velocity Sports Performance “Choosing a Performance Coach” October 15, 2009, (National Sports Performance Chain)
Youthletic.com “What to look for in a Sports Performance Coach or Trainer
Eric Cressey, National Speaker, Author, owner Cressey Sports Performance, published in numerous fitness, health, and sports magazines
Efficient Movement Sports Medicine Center – Choosing The Right Sports “Trainer”
M-Power blog by Mike Baker