Guest blogger Nathan Kiely is fearless in his passion for the development space. Along with his pursuit of excellence in his coaching craft. With several years coaching now under his belt (Newington College, Cricket NSW), I reached out to Nathan to get his insights into what it takes for youth to make it in sport... He jumped at the opportunity which I'm extremely grateful for, and I'm sure once you've finished reading you will be too!
In my current role as physical performance coach for the Cricket New South Wales pathway, my day-to-day is comprised of designing, implementing and educating up to 180 of the best young cricketers in the state about all thing’s strength and conditioning and athletic development. Half of all my athletes are based in regional or country areas and thus, I get very little face-to-face time with them.
These challenges (combined with current COVID-19) have recently made me acutely aware of how we resource our young and aspiring sports people to make sure high quality, easy to understand and practical information regarding best practices in training and physical conditioning is disseminated.
We live in a world where information, both good and bad, is constantly at our fingertips. We’re always being enticed by the latest, greatest, newest, secret guru training methodology, equipment or system. I fear we live in a time where scientific literacy has never been more important, yet so often absent.
My hope is that we can get back to basics. However, every time I tell my athletes or their parents that we focus on doing simple things at a high level, I’m met with one of two responses.
First, and perhaps more obviously: what even are the basics anyway?
Second, if everyone is just ‘doing the basics’, won’t some secret sauce give my son or daughter a leg up over the competition?
These are both very valid questions, so my hope is to answer them both in this article and help us all better prepare our youth for longevity and success in their sporting endeavors.
Firstly, what are the basics? This is perhaps both the simplest and most complicated question to answer. Most high-quality practitioners would agree on at least 90 per cent of what constitutes the non-negotiables, especially when looking through the lens of general physical preparation in youth athletes (non-specialised approach).
However, I’ll go out on a limb and tell you all what I think are the basics by looking at the key physical qualities we need in team, field and court-based sports.
The basics are:
· Speed – sprinting
· Power – jumping high and throwing far
· Strength – moving heavy objects (or people)
· Endurance – outlasting the opposition
I firmly believe that any developing athlete who regularly addresses each and every one of these key physical qualities and their subsequent elements is giving themselves the best chance possible to have a long and sustained, injury free and physically dominant athletic journey.
While there are no guarantees in sport, mitigating risk and covering all bases goes one hell of a long way to getting great outcomes for our kids. Each of these should be trained exactly how you think – want to get more powerful? Practice jumping or throwing. Increase strength? Teach them to lift weights. It ain’t rocket science.
Now, onto the second question. Won’t I be giving my child an advantage if I give them access to the latest and greatest, the newest and slickest, the fanciest and most secretive training program? The answer here is yes. Yes, you will be giving them an advantage and they will have a leg up on the competition. However, this comes with one very important caveat. That advantage will dissipate immediately if you’ve skipped step one—do the basics savagely well.
Every advanced training method requires the athlete to ‘earn the right’, and until that right has been earnt – do not pass go, do not collect $200.
If there was only one thing I could tell a parent about sporting success it would be this. Instant gratification – we often admonish our children for having this approach to all things in spades, but ultimately it is a learned behaviour and we as coaches, role models and parents must resist the urge to pass this trait on.
Unfortunately, all too often we want to put the carriage in front of the horse. It doesn’t sell to tell you all that the fancy stuff comes not when you’ve done all the boring stuff well and consistently for 10-weeks, but that instead, you’d better be damn prepared for doing it for the next 10-years.
Embody delayed gratification to your child in every aspect of their lives. There are no short-cuts and every roadblock, speed bump or failure will callus your child’s mind for the obstacles that lie ahead of them.
When I see our international superstars come back to our facility to train after a six-month road trip where they’ve been under immense physical and psychological stress, they don’t complain that they haven’t slept in their own bed for as long as they can remember or ask for a day off—they get back to work, in the gym, in the nets or on the outfield—doing the basics.
This is what they’ve done since they were the same age as little Johnny and Jill and they will keep on keeping on, not until they’re tired, but until they’re done.
A big thanks to Nathan Kiely for his insights, and the time he took to contribute to The Sporting Parent. Feel free reach out and follow Nathan's journey on: