Just want to relay a situation I had recently. A client of mine had her sixteen year old son taking part in this strength and conditioning program at another facility. Well, one day her son comes home from a training session all distraught. Apparently he had difficulty with barbell squatting. It wasn’t that his squat technique was bad. It was just that he didn’t have the shoulder mobility to get the proper placement of the bar behind his head. So what does his trainer say? “There must be something wrong with you. I think you should go see a doctor”. So now this kid thinks there is something wrong with him. He feels like a mutant. And he feels a bit ashamed. My client gives me the lowdown and asks me what she should do. I suggest bringing him in to take a look at him and go from there.
So I meet with him. We’ll call him Tom. When Tom walks through the door it’s not surprising why he has difficulty with bar placement during the barbell squat. He’s a bit timid and in turn carries a bit of a kyphotic posture. Not an all too uncommon issue with someone his age and it’s somewhat of an easy fix. Get him foam rolling through the thoracic spine. Give him some static stretching for the internal rotators. Give him some corrective exercise such as scap wall slides or thoracic extensions. And get his confidence up so he carries himself a little taller. And if he keeps up with this stuff, I’m sure his shoulder mobility gets a bit better and he’s able to place that bar behind his head.
The problems with Tom are not solely his fault. They’re are also the fault of the nitwit trainer he’s been working with. Rather than making Tom feel like the oddball of the bunch, this trainer should should have been patient with him and given him some corrective work so not only will he be able to barbell back squat but his chances of a shoulder injury down the road lessen.
The second issue I have is that there is always another exercise. Not just with Tom, but with anyone who is having difficulty with a particular exercise. Don’t have the mobility to back squat? Go to the front squat. Still having trouble there? Go to a goblet squat. Yet, this other trainer pigeon holes one exercise into the workout for every individual no matter what issues these kids may be having. There is always an alternative rather making someone feel like crap, or worse putting them in at risk position.
The third issue I have has nothing to do with the physical well being of Tom. It has to do with his mental well being. Here’s a kid who’s bit shy and a little unsure of himself in the first place. Now you’re going to tell him there is something wrong with him for an issue that is not even that big of a deal? A better approach is to have patience with the kid. Tell him you like his effort or the work he’s doing, but lets work on fixing his technique a bit.
The situation I detailed above is not all that uncommon unfortunately. More kids than ever are doing some type of training. But more kids than ever are also getting beat down, mentally and physically. We don’t want kids getting beat down. We wants kids getting better. Getting better takes proper coaching. Getting better takes time.