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Sport Development for Children

There could be many take home messages from the chart contained in my last blog titled  “Track and Field Stages of Growth and Development according to Age“ chart.


One of the most important messages I'd like you to learn when discussing training young children is “less is more“. http://www.charliefrancis.com/blogs/news/16872696-the-small-workout-january-26th-2015

Let’s look at one area in particular:  The volume of time for a single session.  If sessions are exceeding any of these recommended time periods at given ages, overtraining is a certainty. Overtraining leads to premature injuries, burn out and children loosing interest in sport. 

Quickly, here are 3 things you need to look for if you think your child is suffering from overtraining. 1. An inability to sleep or get to sleep 2. A sudden or unusual change in appetite ( usually, it’s a lack of appetite 3. An inability for the child to focus or concentrate . This is not an exhaustive list. Heart rate monitoring can be used , is more scientific but more time is required to track the results. 

I mention and talk about overtraining often. Despite people agreeing overtraining is a bad idea, we continue to see it over and over again. We agree there are countless things we can do to help young children. Coaching without facts and coaching that has not been based on experienced RESULTS or methods, often results in overtraining. To summarize, when using the variable of time ( in training) keep it short, to the point and don’t overwhelm.

The chart merely begins a dialogue for you as a coach or a parent.

Where do I start?

How much time do I spend?

What exercises do I perform?

Where do I start? = You start where your child is at.  Some kids want to do more. Some want to do less. Wait until they tell you if and when they are ready to begin. Pushing your child might work now but long term it will back fire. 

How much time do I spend? =You spend as little time as needed to maintain continued interest (always end sessions on positive performances when kids are feeling good). Have a plan but be more than prepared to stop your session when you see things deteriorate.

What exercises do I perform? = As far as knowing what exercises to perform? Short runs, easily performed with introductory jumps in small volumes . Throws with weightless balls. You are looking to keep things simple first and grow from there. Look to start your child out in gymnastics, swimming and track as your best development sports and the training will take care of itself.

If your child or athletes are laughing , it's usually a good sign that you are doing a great job. You will be setting them up to get short and long term results and keeping them safe at the same time. 

Enjoy your work and efforts. Coaching is hard work. 


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Track and Field stages of Growth and Development According to Age Chart


I wanted to share this chart ( Copyright 2015 www.charliefrancis.com )  with a wider audience outside of some of the information dense lectures Coach Charlie Francis presented.

This chart is interesting because in one glance you can learn a great deal regarding the volume and intensity guidelines for the development cycle of any person wanting to experience or prepare for sport or specifically, track and field.  Track is said to be one of the development sports for acquiring the skills of speed and strength.  Swimming is another development sport facilitating the skill of endurance. Gymnastics is the third sport used to develop a persons  speed, strength and flexibility. ( See " Theory and Methodology of Training " by Tudor Bompa 1983, ISBN number 0-8403-6015-0 / as well as " From Childhood to Champion Athlete " Bompa 1995, ISBN number 0-9697557-1-6) 

I started this blog wanting to write about coaching young children. I get many questions from parents asking about how to make their child and or athlete faster.  It would be an incomplete discussion unless I was able to share this information rich, chart. I have found parents and coaches commonly over prescribe work volume, intensity and have limited understanding on what exercises are best for which ages.

It has been my understanding that Charlie spoke to Tudor and was consulting him when he was creating this chart. Not only has Tudor  been one of the best coaches in the world and he has also been our friend for several years. 

As a side note = My first complete weight training program was penned by Tudor. Charlie was always modifying the paper copy according to my routine speed improvements. Having both Charlie and Tudor in the weight room for my training was not so bad for my confidence starting out. 

I hope you find some interesting content here. 

Take care of yourself ,


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More is not Better

" Remember that your drills must always be improving in quality, so you must make sure that you are recovered for each new workout. If your workout deteriorates, stop the workout! "  ( coach charlie francis 1948 - 2010) 

For Sprinters more is not better.

For Distance Runners, more might be better within the confines of a proper training program, but sprinters are unique athletes. 

Elite, sprint athletes, especially the world’s fastest men and women, will tell you it’s more about the quality of work. Specifically, for high quality speed work where you are able to execute proper form that strengthens the muscles, you need to sprint and maintain your speed. First you need to be fast. Then you need to be fast longer than everyone else.

It’s not really that simple but if most of you reading this understood how critical getting into the ideal mechanical position really was… Once you have felt this physiological bliss, you will crave for more.

For almost 2 decades people have written into  www.charliefrancis.com trying to unlock the secrets of how to get fast. The basic principles of rest and recovery and respecting high intensity work as the main driver of success needs to be a priority.  However, if you take nothing else from the vast information available to you at charliefrancis.com there is nothing more important than balancing high intensity work with appropriate rest and recovery. 

I hope this website has helped you the way I know it has helped so many others.


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