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The 3 Reasons You Should Never Test Young Athletes

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It occurred to me over the weekend that there would be absolutely no point in sharing with you the specific details about my training system without first addressing a topic that seems to always light a fire underneath my butt!

Testing Young Athletes.

Why do we do it?


What is the sense of testing a 10 year old athlete?

What kind of data are we expecting to generate that will prove helpful in planning future training programs and sessions?

This is the question you have to ask yourself before you even think about testing a kid.

And please don't say "to see how well my training program has worked so far", Schann!!

Kids improve at different rates and for different reasons than adults.

Does that make sense?

If you take the average 10 year old athlete who is virtually 'untrained', and then train them with speed, strength or power work for a few weeks...


That's not necessarily because the training program was so well designed, though.

It's because at certain ages throughout our youth, our bodies improve as a matter of growth.

Meaning - it doesn't matter WHAT the training program was, the kid is going to get better!

I just finished writing an article for you about 'Testing Young Athletes' that I think is going to really open your eyes about this topic.

Developing Youth Athletes

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Hi, I know what you're saying about testing kids but although this is slightly off at a tangent, you can make a case for giving young players targets to aim for and to achieve this it's useful to have a baseline to measure improvement from. So the 'testing' doesn't have to be an end in itself. This article from http://www.bettersoccercoaching.com is aall about this, but manages to make the process sound not too scary.

Why assessing core soccer skills is helpful

Setting goals to help your players gain the skills necessary to succeed is one of your main jobs as a soccer coach. But you'll need to assess players' baseline skills first.

Before you can set a player personal objectives for the season you have to establish a baseline from which to measure their improvement. To do this you need to find out how good each of your players are at all or some of the core soccer skills of running, turning, dribbling, heading and shooting.

This baseline testing is quite easily done over a couple of drill sessions, but you will need an assistant to look after the rest of the team while you run the tests.

The tests recommended by the English Football Association Soccer Star programme are simple, fun and suitable for all age groups.

Most players enjoy finding out how good they are at basic soccer skills.

They will also:

Benefit from the immediate feedback and rewards that the test results provide.

Have their self-esteem boosted from seeing how they improve during the year.

Be more relaxed and confident knowing that they are not expected to compete with each other.

Become motivated to practise at home in between sessions.

If you visit the FA website (www.thefa.com) you’ll see how to run all of the tests. The link to the tests is http://www.thefa.com/GetIntoFootball/FALearning/Soccer Star. There are detailed diagrams of each set up and hints and tips to pass on to your players to help them do their best on test day.

Please remember that you will need assistants to help you during the testing programme.

You don’t have to run all of the tests. The benefits of setting individual objectives will be felt even if you set objectives in just one of the core skills.

If your help is thin on the ground you should definitely consider setting your players just one or two core skills and carry out baseline testing accordingly.

All this might seem like a lot of hard work for no immediate or obvious reward.

I can assure you, however, that these tests are not very difficult or especially time consuming to run once you get into the swing of them – they are definitely worth the effort.

Setting players' individual and achievable targets keeps them involved and allows them to experience success, even if they are not the most skilful.

This is, perhaps, your own most important objective.

Achieve it and you will have done a good job.

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