T Nation

Overtrained or Out of Condition?

Working with young teen athletes, one of the common complaints I hear from girls is that they are “overtrained”. Actually, I hear it from their parents, who are complaining that Suzy has tendinitis, tennis elbow, and jock itch for all I know. Half the stuff I’m hearing could be a made up ailment.

My question is: I’m trying to increase their conditioning base, but they struggle to fight through the discomfort, and seem to be using every owwie as an excuse to not do it. How do you know when to back off? When there is a real injury, and not some coddled kid who doesn’t know how to train through discomfort?

Well I’m not sure how young you are talking about, but they obviously don’t have enough drive/motivation to do it. Be a leader and step up. Attempt to motivate and influence them into wanting to do the ‘exercises’, instead of forcing them.

If someone wants something bad enough (eg; be great at whatever sport they are in), that person will do anything and everything to get it. So instead of trying to increase their conditioning base, try increasing their reasons/goals for playing. They will eventually ask you for ways to improve.

Sounds like the kids you train suck. If I ever told my coach that we were running too man sprints and I was overtrained, he would laugh and make me run ten more.

I stayed away from teen athletes (still do) for the parent reason. Got sick of it and I didn’t have the patience to deal with both the parent and athlete. Sorry, if any advice I had worked I’d probably still work with them.

One suggestion, get them into an environment where they can train with adults (or older teens), so they can see how hard they should be training in the sport they are in (behavioral modelling approach).

Most of them have a diet that is pure crap, from start to finish. No breakfast or a muffin. Pop and a sports drink. No pre-workout snack and no post-workout snack, and then they wonder why they can’t build msucle, bone, tendons and ligaments. As a result they develope all those little nagging chronic injuries that prevent them from improving. They are unable to grasp the relationship between diet and performance. You can’t run a Ferarri on deisel fuel. Only 3 pop or sports drink a week will add an extra 5Lbs. of weight in a year. After playing for 5 years, they can’t understand why they’re over-weight at age 15.

Make sure that you increase the volume and intensity gradually. And just keep hammering away. Sooner or later, some of it will sink in.

Good luck.