The quest for an Olympic medal is a path of hard training, dedication, passion, excellent coaching, understanding diet and nutrition, a belief system that it can become a reality; and It starts at a very young age. The foundation must be laid down and built upon by the parents of any aspiring young athlete. Of course excellent coaching is a key component, but the bedrock is knowing how to care for an elite or aspiring child athlete.  

 Since I am a runner and obviously a running coach, this blog will revolve around running but can be applied to any sport that is pursued with excellence.

What role, as you the parent, have in helping your child pursue an Olympic dream or a scholarship to a college of their choice? Or the role you play in making sure your child has what
they need toDO THEIR BEST.Below are a few examples and there are many more, but these should get you thinking.

1.       Encourage your child  and let them know that you believe they have the ability to be a great runner. You the parent must have a true and transparent belief that your child has the potential to be great. It is amazing how many times that I have seen tremendous raw talent in a child, only to be discounted by the parent.

2.       Be patient with their development as an athlete, it doesn’t happen over a single season. It takes years of proper development, both mentally and emotionally.

3.       Training must start at the earliest signs of your child showing an interest in the sport of running.

4.       You, as the parent, must be totally committed in supporting your child, and seeing this all the way through. Parents of elite athletes normally take on the life of dedication and selfless sacrifice in support of their child’s quest.Without this type of parental dedication,the reality of an Olympic berth or scholarship is very remote. Many of America’s young elite come from single family homes, or homes where both parents are working hard to support a growing family. The one thing that these parents have in common: GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT and the love and admiration of their child’s ability.

5.       It is an investment in both time and money, and well worth the journey regardless of the outcome.

6.       Keeping your child well balanced with education and recovery time. Recovery time from training sessions are vital, without it your child will perform poorly from one training session to another. Running is one of the most demanding and stressful sports on the human body, and a growing body needs rest in-between hard training days. The importance of an above average education is vitally important if you plan on finding a scholarship for your child. College coaches are always looking for those talented youth athletes that have a great educational background too.

7.       I cannot say enough about proper diet and nutrition. The body of a youth athlete is forming differently from that of sedentary children and requires a special diet that is densely packed with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, essential grain oils and amino acids etc, etc. Review my various blogs on this subject for advice and information.

8.       Coach selection. Most youth running coaches, in my opinion, and on average, are adequately prepared for typical youth fitness programs. But, and on average, most youth coaches are not qualified to coach the very talented children that show a promise in track and field, cross country or most other running venues. As a matter of fact, most coaches along with ill prepared parents are the cause of many children dropping out of a sport they love.

9.       A great coach must have these character traits.

A.      Has an intuitive understanding of the sport.

B.      Continually seeks out new information. The science and technological improvements are changing constantly.

C.      Is a Motivator. Displays enthusiasm and a great attitude.

D.      Displays commitment. A great coach is hard to find, especially one that displays a keen commitment for each person on the team regardless of ability.

E.       Leads by example.

F.       Effective Communicator.

G.      A good Listener.

H.      Disciplined. An effective coach abides by the rules and policies he or she sets for the team.

10.   A GREAT RUNNING COACH will have a deep love for the sport.

11.   Don’t blame your coachfor your child’s lack of improvement. If teammates are constantly improving and your child is not, then look at your parenting for ways to help your child overcome barriers he or she may be experiencing. My experience leads me to believe that it is the parent that gives in to the child’s lack of improvement and allowing excuses from their child as to why they are not improving. A parents untamed ego and pride has also ruined many a young runner’s passion for the sport.

12.   Follow your coach’s advice. The most successful youth athletes and along with their parents, generally follow the expert advice and recommendations provided. If you are not able to follow the recommendations from a qualified coach, or your questions are not being returned in a logical way that you can attest by research, my suggestion is that you find a different coach that you can relate to.

13.   TEAM WORK…. when all involved parties are on the same page a solid foundation is created for the youth athlete.  The youth along with parents and the coaching staff must work together and create common goals that satisfy the needs of all those involved in the development of the youth athlete.

Coach Richard Burke

Master Endurance Runner 

Certificated by USATF governing

Branch of USA Olympic Team.










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