Preparing the Child for the Path

The below article is a guest post written by and reprinted here with permission by one of my mentors, Mike Boyle, arguably 1 of the top strength & conditioning coaches in the world, the current Boston Red Sox Strength & Conditioning Consultant, owner of a Men’s Health Top 100 Gyms in America, Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning in Woburn, MA; former S&C coach the BU Men’s Hockey national champions, former Boston Bruins S&C coach, former Women’s Olympic Gold Medal Ice Hockey S&C coach, current S&C coach to middle school, high school, college, amateur, Olympic and professional athletes; internationally renowned speaker, author, fellow athletic trainer and fellow Springfield College alumni (biased #1 sports science school in the country).

Take it away Mike.


I have a favorite quote that is particularly applicable when it comes to training kids.

“prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child”

The reality is that you will not always be there to pave the way for your child, fix things, argue with coaches etc. etc. Kids will grow into adults and experience grumpy co-workers and mean bosses. Constantly insulating kids from difficult situations and consistently cleaning up the mess they create defeats the purpose of sport.

Sport is about learning to succeed and to fail, not just to succeed. Sports should primarily provide life lessons. If the life lesson learned from sport is that Mom and Dad can and will fix everything, later life will be difficult. If the lesson is that school is something you have to do but sports are what is really important than, be prepared for some really big problems down the road.

Youth sports has become all about success and scholarships instead of about learning and sportsmanship. I have some bad news for all the parents out there. Your child more than likely won’t get a scholarship. If he or she does get a scholarship, they probably won’t make the pros. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, I’m just a realist.

I have more bad news. Those parents who consistently prepare the path for the child by confronting teachers and coaches, changing teams, changing leagues and changing schools are making life-long losers out of their children.

Remember the purpose of sport is to teach kids about success and about failure. The failure lessons may in fact be more important than the successes. Everyone wants their child to succeed, it’s universal, it’s part of being a parent. However, it is when we attempt to alter the normal path that we screw things up. Protecting your child from difficult situations only delays lessons that are very necessary. Failures experienced at twenty one are far more painful than those experienced at ten or twelve. You don’t do your child a service by protecting them, you do them a disservice.

Remember you are a parent. You are not a friend, a manager, or an agent. Your job is to help create a competent, capable adult, not a dysfunctional child.

My mother had a wonderful saying on our wall when I was a child. It said “Children learn What they Live”. The same one hangs in my kitchen now. If you consistently prepare the path for the child you postpone the inevitable. The key is value education. Teach your children what is really important. Teach hard work, commitment, loyalty and dedication.

The next time you make a decision involving your child’s sport or sports, ask yourself “Am I preparing the child for the path or the path for the child”. This simple step will guide your decision making every time.

Mike Boyle


Preseason Conditioning for High School Basketball Players

Yesterday I ran a conditioning clinic for high school basketball players and much to the athletes surprise we didn’t pick up a basketball. It was a tough 60, dense minutes with every second accounted for. Towards the end I thought they weren’t going to make it, so I asked them, “we can stretch now, or we can do 1 more conditioning drill. It’s going to be 4 minutes of continuous work and you’re running suicides.” One kid was silent, meaning he didn’t want to do it, but the rest wanted the challenge. Majority rules.

It reminded me of my superstar clients. They tell me what they want, ask what to do and do it. Doesn’t matter how high the wall or how huge the obstacle. They run through it, hurdle it or jump it. They’ll lift heavy weights, run sprints, train “X” number of hours per week, or keep a nutrition log. Eyes on the prize all the way.

Back to basketball. Here’s the outline we followed. If you’re a client of mine, you’ll see similarities to what you do and maybe start to see a pattern.

High School Preseason Conditioning Clinic for Basketball Players

Warm Up-22min

  • Jog Perimeter of Gym-4min
  • Joint Mobes/Mobility Exercises-7min
  • Movement Preparation/Light Agility Movements-11min

Core: 3min

  • Planks

Plyometrics (elasticity)-9min

  • Landing-3min
  • Jumping-3min
  • Quick Feet-3min

Agility cone Drills-6min

  • Lateral movements-3min
  • Cutting-3min

Conditioning (same formula for fat loss, can even be same exercises)-10min

  • 4 station interval circuit-6min
  • Finisher-suicides-4min


  • Good ‘ol fashioned total body static stretching

*rest periods were built into each section and I occasionally added extra rest

Desire and determination. My superstar clients have it, these kids have it, I have it, do you have it?