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COLUMN: How to Pick a Training Program

Derek Rietman • Feb 23, 2017 at 1:00 AM

If you start talking with anyone about sports performance training, you will hear many different opinions. Even at the highest level of professional sports, philosophy and techniques differ. With so many opinions, how are you supposed to find out what is correct for your child? To help make this decision easier, here is a quick guide of what to look for when picking a training program.

Look for credentials

Simply having letters behind your name does not make you a good trainer, but the best trainers have a passion for improving their own knowledge. Due to this passion, they will seek to continue their education and have certifications to prove it. Continuing education is extremely important as the field of strength and conditioning is rapidly developing and information learned as little as 10 years ago may no longer apply. Do not take advice from someone who is not on the cutting edge of his or her field.

Do your research and look into what your athlete’s trainer is certified in. Ideally, their certification and education would directly relate to the program you’re looking into. All certifications are not created equal.

Ask to watch a training session

Environments between facilities can be drastically different. Picture loud music, heavy weights and an instructor yelling at the top of their lungs versus upbeat music, smiling faces and an enthusiastic, encouraging instructor. One environment is not inherently better, but they are certainly for different people.

Talk with your child about goals they have, and talk sensibly about what type of environment they would be comfortable in. Remember that age, sport, and ability level should all influence the decision of what environment is best for your athlete. Many facilities may even allow a trial session before fully committing to a program.

Determine cost

Training cost can vary greatly. Large groups of athletes are often trained together for as little as a few dollars per person. On the other hand, personalized one-on-one training can cost more than $100 per hour. Experience level will also largely influence the cost of a session. Trainers just getting into the field will often charge much less than an experienced co-worker. The tough question becomes how much are you willing to spend?

Think through what the benefits of an individualized program with personalized attention may be for your athlete. Or would they better be suited in a group of their peers, feeding off the energy and motivation of others? Will they benefit from an experienced trainer? Usually, the answer to all these questions falls somewhere in the middle. Remember, consistency of any training is key, so be careful not to commit financially to something that is not sustainable.

Use this guide to ensure your child's sports performance training meets your goals and expectations. Never be afraid to ask tough questions such as, what makes this program different? Or why is your program more expensive? Every trainer should have reasoning behind their program and be able to answer questions such as these.

— By Derek Rietman, CPT, CAFS, FAFS

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