Tips for Parents on Choosing a Trainer for Youth Athletes

Tips for Parents on Choosing a Trainer for Youth Athletes – a guest post by Christopher Flores ATC of Flo Fitness LLC.

For the past 7 years I have been working almost exclusively with High School Athletes. Working at a High School with about 1,300 athletes I have heard my fair share of crazy stories of what other trainers do with our youth. I have also heard stories from parents about what they have been through with trainers for their kids. I often get the phrase ,”Why hasn’t anyone told me about this?” , when I tell them about the muscular imbalances or injury possibilities I see in their kids during my assessments. After hearing all these stories I have come up with some tips for parents on how to decide which trainer is best for their youth.
  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. I find it puzzling that parents will move into a specific neighborhood or pay for a special school for their kids education ,but when it comes to the health and well being of their kids they just drop them off at the cheapest training facility. Im not saying training is more important than education but I do believe there should be some research done before you hand over a credit card. Here are some things to look out for:
    1. If they are not assessing they are guessing!!! If they do not do an assessment on your child to find out what the specific NEEDS of your child are, than they are just guessing. If you do a full workout the first day you walk in; there is something wrong. Find a place that assess where your child is, so that they can design a program for what that child will need.
    2. Look for experience working with YOUTH, not general experience. If you have experience working with old people, this does not mean you can train anyone. (I will get into this later)
    3. Find out what the Mission and the Vision of the facility is. Are they there to make your youth a better person and athlete or are they there to make a profit? This could be the difference between your child loving to exercise or hating it.
  2. DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Just because a trainer worked with the pros does NOT make them qualified to work with youth. I often tell parents that Former is Former for a reason. If they no longer work for the pros, chances are they got fired because they weren’t to good at what they did there. Please understand that the pro level is the top 5% of our population of athletes. They are well skilled athletes. This is not the case for our youth, therefore what works for the pros does not always work for the youth. Programs need to be changed and must have a stronger emphasis on how kids move as opposed to how much weight they can move. With this being said, there are some GREAT trainers who have moved down from college or the pros willingly and are amazing at training youth. (My buddy Adam Feit comes to mind) So this leads back to tip #1. If you do your research you will find these trainers.
  3. LOOK GOOD does not equal TRAIN GOOD. This goes for any level of training. Just because a trainer looks jacked does NOT mean he knows how to train youth. Being in good shape does not qualify you to work with youth athletes. I have heard parents say this before, ” Well so and so works out a lot so I send my kid to train with him.”. If the person does not know how to train youth, they could be doing more harm than good. Muscular imbalances and loading bad patterns can lead to injury on the field.
  4. SAVE MONEY HERE BUT SPEND IT THERE. I understand that times are hard for people, but you should not cut corners when if comes to training your kids. You may save some money up front but when the youth gets injured because of the poor training done in the summer or before the season, it will cost you more in the long run. The cost of doctors bills and hospital visits is way more than the cost of a well educated trainer. Not only is the cost money, but also a mental and emotional cost to your youth. I have seen very promising athletes be shut down and ruined by injury. I have seen their whole personality change because they could no longer play the sport they loved at the level they wanted. It is a bad cycle and if it can be avoided I believe it is worth the cost.
These are just a few tips I feel parents should know. It is unfortunate but with the rise of popularity in High School sports there has also come a rise in people trying to make a profit off of it. It is important that you choose a place wisely. Business is business and that will never change but the effects of a poor choice in training can last a lifetime.

Flo Fitness is located in Westfield NJ on South Ave. Facility is owned by Christopher Flores ATC, Athletic Trainer of Westfield High School. Visit www.Flofitnessllc.com for further information.