There's no need to rush talented teenaged athletes.
Peak performance comes at age 25, 26.
A few weeks ago, I came across an article about the peak age of performance for athletes.
Based on the findings of a study done in France a few years ago, the average age was 26.1 years for peak performance. In the 100-metre sprint for example, the peak age for performance for males was 25.4 years and 26.1 years for female sprinters.
This led me to question some of the aggressive training methods being deployed by the coaches of high school athletes. Five or six days-per-week training programs are quickly becoming the norm for many.
Quite often, they are experimenting in the weight room with untrained instructors, which can lead to serious injury.
Even more disturbing is the high rate of injury among the more naturally talented athletes. These are the kids that showed significant potential before any formal coaching.
Then in comes that coach wanting to make a name for himself by aiming to put them on the Olympic podium before they graduate from high school. Or, perhaps, these excited coaches really do not know any better.
Overzealous parents are also to be blamed. They are sometimes guilty of getting caught up in the hype and losing perspective of just how long it takes for an athlete to reach full potential.
The millennial athlete is also a part of the problem. This is a generation where instant gratification is expected. I often hear very talented athletes talk about quitting because they are not running fast enough.
In part, this behaviour is being driven by some of the sensational high school performances we read about or stories of high school athletes representing their country at major international events. But we need to remember, those are the anomalies, not the norm.
In recent years, the term Long-Term Athlete Development has become a marketing line for many sports organizations, with many having no long-term development program in place.
As mentioned in the study, the average age at which an athlete reaches his peak performance is 26.1 years old, so why the rush?
As a sprint coach, I hate to say this, but let's slow it down.