How to properly develop a teen triathlon – triathlon

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If you’ve ever been lucky enough to witness the success of the young athletes you help develop, you’ll know how rewarding it is. (No, no, it’s definitely not surprising to choke at the thought of a child you’ve coached or coached crossing the finish line. excellent normal. )

Then again, unless you’ve been living in a difficult position for the past decade, you also know how bad some sports are with their youth programs. Even well-intentioned coaches and parents find themselves needing to see their young athlete reach their full potential, forgetting that aside from a child’s impressive athleticism, he or she is just a child. From soccer to gymnastics, multiple youth sports are filled with stories of coaches and parents who clearly didn’t have the best of intentions.

With USA Triathlon’s newly announced plans to invest more than $100,000 in its youth programs, there is a lot of discussion about how triathlon can be the right model for youth sports. Through the 2022 Return to Racing Youth Stimulus Program, USAT will increase opportunities and opportunities for current and future athletes, including:

  • Free Youth Activities Sanctions
  • Free Youth Clinic Sanctions
  • Youth Club Free Registration
  • 10 free youth memberships per youth-approved race and youth club
  • Expand Youth Scholarship Program

According to John Lorenz, program director of the MMTT (Multisport Madness Triathlon Team, an elite triathlon for youth and teens in Chicago’s western suburbs), the investment is a solid step. “One of the bigger issues we’re trying to manage in our program is the cost aspect,” he said. Their program prides itself on reducing financial barriers to entry through an affordable fee structure and other measures, such as reserving team bikes so new youth athletes can use them as they enter the sport. They take a similar approach to the events they host. “We always tell people, if it comes down to charging, talk to us,” he said.

While triathlons as a whole have been hit during the pandemic, Lorenz said youth programs have been particularly hard hit. “The pandemic has also impacted USAT’s financial resources, resulting in reduced funding support for youth and development teams,” he said. “Supporting youth and developing teams will be a prudent approach to growing the sport as we move forward.”

So it’s clear that anything that removes barriers to entry for kids who might be interested in trying a tri is a favorite this season. But as these young athletes start competing in triathlons, how can coaches and other influential adults help make the experience positive? How do successful youth programs, like the MMTT, bring these kids into the sport in a way that encourages them to persevere—without burning out?

“You have to make triathlons fun,” Lorenz said. “When you’re dealing with kids at this age, it has to be fun. We make it very engaging, and it’s not something they can’t bear.”

related: How to Help Your Child (Not) Train for a Triathlon

At MMTT, Lorenz has been a program director for nearly 15 years, focusing on creating a family-like atmosphere and acknowledging that life is more than a triathlon. While they provide a daily training atmosphere, they do not require daily attendance; in fact, they encourage their athletes to participate in other sports. “I’m a big believer in athletes being athletes and multisport,” Lorenz said. “Most of our athletes participated in their high school sports. Almost all competed in cross country, swimming and track and field.”

Coaches at the MMTT modify training as needed to fit the training their athletes have received in other sports, which brings another important aspect of doing youth triathlon properly: building trust with coaches and building a sense of what allows athletes to have enough. Confidence provides relationship feedback. “We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of feedback,” Lorenz said. “If we make X a workout of the day, but you’re already exercising, or you’re injured, we’ll make adjustments.”

Building trust between coaches and youth athletes is the primary goal, but it is also important to build trust between coaches and parents. “If a parent comes to us and says their child has a problem and they’re not doing this or that, I’ll tell them they need to get the coach and the athlete to deal with it,” Lorenz said. “It usually works because, you know, kids usually respond better to coaches than they do to their parents.”

Lorenz’s approach makes sense, considering what Olympian Joe Maloy, the current director of triathlon development for the United States, said in a recent interview with The Triathlete Hour podcast. He noted that while he knew his personal success would depend on the medals earned by the athletes he brought in and nurtured, he was more interested in helping athletes build the habits and work ethic they need in their youth so that when they reach 20 For many years, they will have the skills they need to compete.

And, for the kids in the Lorenz program, it’s safe to say that one of those skills is finding some joy, maybe even a little balance, in the sport as they climb the ranks.

related: How to find the best three clubs for your child

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