Youth Sports – A Position Statement


In developing young athletes it is one thing to say that children are not miniature adults and then to turn around and treat them as miniature adults by imposing adult competition and practice schedules on children. They are children and need to be treated as such. We need to get away from the emphasis on where they will be, their future potential, there is time for that later, put focus on where they are now and build upon that. Develop them so they have mastery of fundamental movements and fundamental sport skills acquired through play. Deemphasize the competition every weekend that starts an early trend toward peaking for Saturday, which then becomes a habit at latter stages of development that results in stifling long-term development and injuries. We must allow for play that is free and unsupervised by adults. Play that allows the kids to be kids where they learn to explore the all dimensions of movement. The benefits are many and proven over time but simply do not fit into the contemporary models that seek to identify the athlete young and get them to specialize as early as possible to accumulate the necessary ten thousand hours to be a superstar. Combine that with the youth sport “Industry” and we have a huge problem in developing athletes. The athlete becomes a client in a business model not a child to be nurtured and encouraged. This has happened because we have deviated form a strong philosophical foundation of athlete development based on physical education, free play and principles of growth and development as well as emotional maturation. The time for change is now before we lose a another generation!

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

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