How to Become a World-Class Athlete | Development from Youth to Pro

  1. Elementary School: Ages 6–10
  2. Middle School: Ages 11–13
  3. High School: Ages 14–18
  4. College and Beyond: Ages 19+

Age at first Olympic Games:

Development of the Olympic Dream

  • Introduced to the sport
  • Achieved local competitive success
  • First dreamed of becoming an Olympian
  • Actually started making decisions that would contribute to actualizing that dream
  • Believed it was possible to become an Olympian
  • Introduced to the sport: 11.4 years old
  • Achieved local competitive success: 14.2 years old
  • First dreamed of becoming an Olympian: 14.0 years old
  • Started making decisions to make the Olympic dream a reality: 17.5 years old
  • Believed it was possible to become an Olympian: 19 years old
  • Made the first U.S. Olympic Team: 25.5 years old (calculated based on the midpoint of the selected age-range).

Regular Sports Participation by Age

Value of Participating in Multiple Sports

  • Age at the first Olympic games was the mid-20s.
  • On average, athletes were first introduced to the sport at around 11 years old.
  • It took 14 years from 1stbeing introduced to sport to make the Olympic team.
  • On average they played 3 sports per year until the age of 14.
  • On average they played 2 sports per year from ages 15–18.
  • On average they played 1 sport per year after high school.
  • 88% of athletes felt playing multiple sports growing up was valuable.

Elementary School [Ages 6–10]

  • Play as many sports as possible recreationally
  • Try to play at least one new sport every year
  • Formally play 3+ sports per year
  • Focus training on improving relative strength, movement quality, and play 2–3 days per week.

The NSCA Position Stand on Youth Resistance Training

  1. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is relatively safe for youth.
  2. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can enhance the muscular strength and power of youth.
  3. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of youth.
  4. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve motor skill performance and may contribute to enhanced sports performance of youth.
  5. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports-related injuries.
  6. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of youth.
  7. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help promote and develop exercise habits during childhood and adolescence.

Risks and Concerns Related to Youth Resistance Training

Growth Cartilage

Middle School [Ages 11–13]

  • Play as many sports as possible recreationally
  • Formally play 2–3 sports per year
  • Resistance training can be more structured and programmed 2–3 days per week.

High School [Ages 14–18]

  • Formally play 2–3 sports per year Freshman and Sophomore years
  • Formally play 1–2 sports per year Junior and Senior year. (can play more if you really enjoy it and/or excel at 3 sports)
  • Resistance training can be as serious as the athlete wants and can handle. Keep in mind most high school athletes are still novices in the weight room. Train 2–5 days per week.

College and Beyond [Ages 19+]

  • Specialize in 1 main sport. It’s ok to continue to play other sports for fun recreationally.
  • Resistance training can be as serious as the athlete wants and can handle.
  • At this stage, some athletes will be advanced lifters and be able to handle a high degree of training volume and require intricate programming.
  • Can train 3–6 days per week, even utilizing multiple sessions per day if needed.
  • Sleep, nutrition, and other forms of recovery need to be optimized.
  1. APA Faigenbaum, Avery D1; Kraemer, William J2; Blimkie, Cameron J R3; Jeffreys, Ian4; Micheli, Lyle J5; Nitka, Mike6; Rowland, Thomas W7 Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2009 — Volume 23 — Issue — p S60-S79 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31819df407
  2. The Path to Excellence: A View of Development of U
  3. USA Wrestling Athlete Development Model (ADM)

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Kyle Hunt

Kyle Hunt

Fitness and Nutrition Coach. Powerlifter. Owner of KyleHuntFitness.com