Velocity-Based Training with Youth Athletes: Fostering Development, Learning, and Success Intro

When it comes to training youth athletes, coaches need to prioritize developmental goals beyond just the weight room. The four C's framework, encompassing Confidence, Competence, Connection, and Character, provides a valuable guide for evaluating and nurturing these goals. Velocity-Based Training (VBT) emerges as a promising approach to empower young athletes, promote a learning culture, and facilitate individualized training, ensuring their success both on and off the field.

Building Confidence, Connection, and Character

  1. Confidence: Recognizing Achievement with Velocity PR's
    Confidence is a critical element in youth athletic development. In strength training, setting and achieving Personal Records (PRs) can build and reinforce confidence. However, as PRs might be less frequent in young athletes, VBT can fill this gap. Measuring and tracking velocity PRs can offer a continuous sense of progress, allowing athletes to recognize their achievements and boost their confidence.

  2. Connection: Fostering Camaraderie through Relative Strength Challenges
    Youth athletes thrive when they feel connected with their peers. Instead of traditional strength-based leaderboards, coaches can use velocity-based individualized load to set up challenges based on relative strength. This approach creates a level playing field, encouraging healthy competition, camaraderie, and reduced conflict due to hierarchical differences.

  3. Character: Promoting Sportsmanship through Data-Driven Evaluation
    Building character in youth athletes involves instilling values like sportsmanship and teamwork. By incorporating games and evaluations based on data, such as improvements in jump height or squat velocity, athletes have opportunities to cheer each other on and demonstrate good sportsmanship.


Communication is important for youth athletes. Adult athletes can lean on a longer lifetime of learned experiences to derive inspiration, motivation, and healthy habits. Younger individuals don’t have that luxury.

Inspiring High Performance

Youth athletes might not be innately motivated to perform at a high level. This lack of motivation can be due to a perceived ambiguity of exactly what high performance means, or how they bridge that gap. Defining high performance and developing levels of performance toward that goal can create a roadmap that sets youth athletes on a path toward being a high performer. One example can be charts of average concentric velocity at 1RM for different levels of athlete, a number that can be trained down over time with effort and skill. Another example is peak velocity for olympic lifts, where faster training velocities often correlate with higher 1RM’s.

Minimizing Pressure

Where pressure in athletics can often be a strong motivator, pressure in youth sports has often been shown to correlate with burnout. To minimize athletic pressure, comparisons with others can be replaced with internal comparisons. Emphasis on competing with ones-self can reframe the outlook on normal competition, where external comparisons are unavoidable. Velocity gives youth athletes many opportunities to compete with themselves the previous week. 

Data in general is a powerful tool to minimize pressure. Often a youth athlete will, in the absence of data or evidence, fill the gaps with assumptions of inadequacy or self doubt. If, for example, velocity loss can be pointed to as a measure of fatigue, and fatigue is a contributor to decreased performance, the athlete can focus on improving their sleep or nutrition instead of their own perceived faults.

Learning Culture

It’s important to foster a learning culture in youth athletics. Young people have many years of schooling ahead of them, where their academic performance depends on their ability to respect the learning process. Although a simple approach including strength and conditioning basics can greatly improve youth athletic performance, teaching the science behind sports and training can be beneficial to establishing a learning environment. Velocity-based training gives youth athletes the opportunity to learn hands-on, by observing the correlation between velocity and exertion, and watching their metrics change over time.


Individualization is vital in youth athletics due to a long list of ever-changing variables throughout childhood development.

Many Skill Levels (RTSC)

The variability in Resistance Training Skill Competency may be no greater than in youth athletics...

See the rest of the article and other resources at RepOne Academy.

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