By: Peter Graves
The CXC Program is an all-inclusive program that has been designed to offer a program and training opportunities for nordic skiers of all ages and abilities.
As the Spring season ramps up I had the opportunity recently to interview Andrew “Andy” Keller, who serves as the CXC Team’s Development Coach. In this interview he let’s us in on CXC’s offerings for junior athletes and why CXC is ready to help young athletes who have the desire to improve.
What do you see as fundamentally unique about coaching juniors?
When you are a junior coach, you are not only a part of a young person’s growth as a athlete but with their growth as a individual. For young individuals, the age period from 14 to 18 is an important time in their character development. You are trying to instill in each one with the characteristics and traits of a well- rounded individual. Learning the values like sportsmanship and hard work will not only help them reach excellence in athletics but to become a respectable person in society.
Why do you love working with this age group?
Coaching junior athletes has given me the opportunity to work with a lot of excited young kids that are just coming into the sport and deciding that cross country skiing is something they would like to pursue at a higher level. Being able to sit down with these kids and set goals that they want achieve and to see them realize their potential is a really rewarding aspect.
How do you lay the ground work of training a junior skier, who has ambitions to make the US Ski Team one day when the get a bit older?
At the start of each season with my program, I sit down with each skier individually to talk about their goals for the season and beyond. For those skiers that have ambitions to make it to the US Ski Team some day, I take a step back and take them through what it might take to make it to that level. The season goals get broken down and we set short term goals for them to reach for throughout the year. Something that is attainable but will make them have to work hard for them to achieve it. These short term goals help them keep motivation throughout the year and give them an assessment on the progress they have been making. Periodically, we will talk one on one and reevaluate where we are and make any changes if things are working better then we thought or if things are not going the way we had hoped. We are still look at the big goal of making the US Ski Team someday, but the main focus is achieve the short term goals that have been put in place to lead the individual the path that they have chosen.
What sort of hours a year should a junior skier be training annually?
U16 athletes should be training between 350 – 450 hours annually. By the time the skier reaches age 17 they should be training at least 500 hours per year. Training hours should be prescribed and increased appropriately though. An older U18 athlete that is just getting into full time training should not immediately jump into a 500 hour training plan because it will probably be to much to handle and there is a risk of over training. Typically my introductory training plans for individuals that are just joining the program start between 400-450 hours.
Does one area of a young skiers development need more training than another to develop the appropriate base to start serious work from?
The focus for most young juniors is building the aerobic base that will allow them when they are older to handle high training loads from high intensity and/or high volume. We achieve this by focusing a majority of the training load on workouts in Level 1. However, a lot of these kids coming in don’t know what Level 1 is or what it feels like. In the junior program we test all of our juniors twice a year using our roller ski treadmill and our metabolic testing equipment to establish the heart rate training zones specific to each athlete.
Why should a skier consider the junior program at CXC?
At the Regional Elite Camp a few years ago, a question was asked about how many kids there had a full-year round training plan. To my amazement, almost none of the kids there raised their hands. Being able to follow a detailed training plan is an essential part of a juniors development as a skier. Being a part of the Junior Program gives you access to full time coach that develops a personalized training plan which tailored to each athletes needs and abilities. Having access to that plan, as well as monthly camps alongside other talented junior athletes, gives the athlete every opportunity to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
How do you try and make the training fun?
Adding in games at the camps is obviously a way to keep things fun and break up the monotony that summer and fall training can be. In the kids minds, games while on skis may not seem like they are working on anything but they are learning how to move and be agile on skis. Another thing that I encourage from the athletes is to get outside and do non ski specific training(biking, swimming, kayaking, etc). Getting out and doing something other then rollerskiing and running keeps things fresh and exciting so that training doesn’t become boring and a chore.
Thank you very much and have a great Spring.
LINKS AND RESOURCES
- CXC Junior Development Program
- CXC Junior Development Program Flyer
- Andy Keller, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assisting in coaching during the CXC Junior Devo training camps in May and June, will be the 2013 US National Classic Sprint Champion and World Cup athlete from Russia, Natalia Naryshkina. Her technical knowledge and experience are a rare combination. Don’t miss an opportunity to work with an athlete of this caliber!