Success can change people. It seems like a lot of athletes forget where they started once
they finally make it. They forget the people that helped them in the beginning, when they
started working towards their athletic goals. When I see a successful athlete acknowledge the
people that helped them along the way, it feels good. It’s also nice to see young athletes give
back to their communities. It’s easy to become selfish and near-sighted after achieving your
biggest goals, but important to pause and acknowledge those that have helped along the way.
Most athletes don’t realize that the years between ages 10 and 18 are the most
important years in their development. At this time, we build a solid foundation on which to
succeed. These are the years that we, as trainers, teach and instill very important movement
patterns. We develop that consistent work ethic, and the will to win. By the age of 18,
movement patterns are solidified. Young athletes still have time to get bigger and stronger, but
those important movement patterns rarely change.
Most people think that training an established athlete is hard, but it is not as difficult as
training a young athlete. For a trainer, young clients pose a unique set of challenges to
navigate. For example, they face a lot of peer pressure. While most kids are out with friends,
playing games, or sleeping in, young athletes have to train it can be difficult to keep their
focus on the task at hand. Physiologically, young athletes pose an interesting challenge in that
their central nervous systems are just beginning to mature. As a trainer, it is important know to
how far to push, and when to stop. These formative years in training are when most young
athletes develop their confidence, and an injury or setback can often deflate that.
In my 30 years as a trainer, I have worked primarily with young athletes. We have been
successful, earning scholarships to Canadian and American schools; division 1 schools and
division 3 schools. Many of my young hockey players have been drafted into the OHL, and 20
have been drafted or signed into the NHL. Others have signed contracts in Europe. Despite this
success, my proudest achievement is having worked with most of these athletes from the very
beginning. Most of them started training with me between the ages of 10 and 15. Knowing the
importance of early development, it always feels good to be acknowledged for my work as
these young athletes become successful and begin careers of their own. Some seem to forget
the hours of training and tremendous amounts of support leading up to their success, but most
do not. When they finally succeed and sign their contracts, it makes me proud to see them
pause to remember where they came from.