“Why don't we train more often?”

We began training for the 2016-17 track-and-field season a few weeks ago and with that came a new crop of families we have to educate about our training philosophy at the Speed Academy.

The most common question I am asked is: “Why don't we train more often?”

Our elementary group trains twice per week and the high school group trains three times per week. The thinking behind our program is to keep our young athletes healthy by avoiding overuse injuries, which are by far the most common injuries in youth sports.

Overuse injuries are defined by the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine as injuries which occur due to repetitive submaximal loading of the musculoskeletal system when rest is not adequate to allow for structural adaptation to take place. I cannot think of a fundamental movement skill that is more repetitive than running.

In recent times, the increased focus on high performance, along with hopes of getting athletic scholarships and making national teams, has led to kids taking part in high intensity training programs at a much younger age.

Many of these programs have given little consideration to adequate rest and recovery. Sadly, this behaviour is most common amongst the more naturally talented athletes and their parents, many of whom never go on to reach their full potential because of injuries.

We hope that a modest two-day-per-week training commitment will allow our elementary kids to participate in other sports, where they can continue to develop their overall athletic ability.

Research suggests athletes who have early specialized training are more likely to quit playing their sport at an earlier age due to injury or burnout from the sport.

In addition, it is important to note recovery is a critical component of any training program. With our high school group, many utilize the services of RMTs and chiropractors to aid in their recovery and to ensure proper biomechanical function as a pro-active method of avoiding injury.

This is probably not what most parents want to hear, but training less can actually help young athletes reach their full potential, because it's not always about training hard.

Less can be best.