Coachcast Title Card For Lance Watson Ep 11

Youth Development & Age-Appropriate Progression with Lance Watson

BY TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

Lance Watson, a Triathlon Hall of Fame member and principal of LifeSport Coaching, explains his approach to youth development and preparing kids to be lifelong athletes.

In this episode, Lance and Dirk discuss the importance of cultivating a multidimensional sports foundation for young athletes before zeroing in on a particular sport. Hear about the upsides of a mixed sporting background and the risks of early specialization. Lance also shares insightful experiences as a coach (guiding Brent McMahon from the junior ranks to retirement from the pro circuit) and a parent of two high-performing kids.

When is the right time for a young athlete to specialize in a sport? How far is too far for those athletes? What role do parents play in the progression of their children’s athletics? Why is it important for young athletes to have a broad range of skills? Find out what has worked for Lance and his athletes for over 25 years, including his son and daughter. 

Standout Quotes

“I think first of all, first and foremost, the coach is responsible for creating the environment and the culture of where these young people [that] essentially, you’ve been entrusted to, you know, guide. They talk about the most important people in a young person’s life. It’s their parents, and then it’s their coach, and then it’s their teacher. In that order. And so that’s the kind of significance of the role that you’re playing with these young people who have been entrusted to you. So thinking about the culture and the environment that you’re creating, you know, and that means, having an element of fun, having an element of playfulness…especially when they’re younger. Making sure that there’s an opportunity for it to be social when they’re younger.”

“It’s their parents And then it’s their coach. And then it’s their teacher. In that order. And so that’s the kind of significance of the role that you’re playing with these young people who have been entrusted to you.”

Lance Watson On Coaching Responsibilities

“If a kid’s good at a sport they pick [and not] their parents, and they’re driven, and they love it, they’ll ask for more. And then your job is just to support it within whatever means you have to support.”

“It’s thinking about, you know, what mental skills, what kind of mental fortitude are you developing? Are you building up the kids’ self-esteem? Because if you if you’ve got a thoroughbred, exceptional athlete, and they have paper thin self-esteem, like, they’re never gonna realize their potential.”

“Typically, kids should not start to specialize until they reach their mid-teens. And that’s with any sport. They should have a variety of sporting experiences — just becoming a dynamic, versatile all-around athlete. If your kid’s playing soccer, they’re building their cardio engine, right? And they’re building speed, and they’re having fun with their friends, and they’re learning to love sport. You know? And if a kid is doing gymnastics, they’re learning spatial awareness, strength, depth perspective, balance… those are all transferable skills that eventually will make you a better bike rider, etcetera.”

Lance Watson Online

LifeSport Coaching
LifeSport Coaching Instagram

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Coachcast Host Dirk Friel
About TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

Dirk Friel is the host of the TrainingPeaks CoachCast and Co-Founder of TrainingPeaks. He is a lifelong athlete with a passion for cycling and ski mountaineering and firmly believes in goal setting, dedicated deliberate training and coaching for all. Learn more about his work at TrainingPeaks and follow his adventures on Instagram @dirkfriel.

Visit TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel's Coach Profile