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RECAP: Developing the Healthy Youth Athlete

RECAP: Developing the Healthy Youth Athlete

This past week, we hosted our 3rd ever Community Talk series featuring a presentation by Dr. Josh Funk on "Developing the Healthy Youth Athlete." Dr. Funk designed this presentation with the coach and parent in mind, in hopes of helping facilitate strategies that utilize current concepts to help youth athletes stay healthy throughout their athletic careers. Throughout the presentation, the Long Term Athlete Development model was referenced by Dr. Funk, as well as personal experiences, in order to best communicate a mix of research-based practices, as well as the challenges surrounding the youth athlete of the 21st century. 

Early in his presentation, Dr. Josh Funk did his best to appreciate many of the challenges and pressures of the youth athlete as well as dispelling myths and misconceptions of certain topics surrounding youth athletes. These myths and misconceptions included the following topics: 

  • Strength Training Stunts Growth
  • Single-Sport Specialization is Best to Develop Athletes
  • Growing Pains
  • Priority of Speed and Agility Development
  • Emphasis on Organized Activity
  • My Kid Can Eat What They Want, They Are Growing

One of the key take-aways from this presentation was the emphasis on multi-sport or activity participation in youth athletes from the elementary school ages up to peak height velocity, also termed puberty. The premise of this idealogy comes from Istvan Balyi's research on Long Term Athlete Development which helps guide parents and coaches as to what should be emphasized during various stages of the growth cycle. In this model, depending on the athletes developmental age, we are able to determine whether they should be focusing on some of the following qualities: 

  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • ​Coordination​
  • Flexibility​
  • Skills

At the end of the presentation, Dr. Funk also recommended the following things to everyone in attendance: 

  • Multi-Sport
  • Single Ingredient Food
  • Limit Beverage Options
  • Force Your Kids to Play
  • Seek Out Intelligent Training
  • Prioritize Windows of Trainability
  • Respect Paint
  • It’s Okay to Say No
  • Emphasize Vigorous
  • Reduce Electronic Use Near Bedtime

Stay tuned to the announcements of our Community Talk for the month of July at our Frederick location!


Canadian Long Term Athlete Development Model
American Hockey Model
Youth Resistance Training: Position Statement
Project Play
International Physical Literacy Association