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Identify and Develop The IT Factor

Does the “IT” factor exist? What is “IT”, even? I truly believe everyone is born with a gift. That gift may provide the foundation for success in arts, academics, sports, or other realms. Of course, what I see most in my line of business is related to sports.

In my career as a trainer I’ve worked with hundreds of high school athletes. I’ve lost count, but well over 40 of those athletes have gone on to play in college. As my boys start getting older (almost 12 and 13) and more serious about sports, I started thinking about the kids who excelled and what characteristics they shared that made them so successful. I narrowed it down to four factors, which I believe sum up to “IT”. While having innate abilities in these areas makes success easier to achieve, they can also be learned!

  1. Mindset

  2. Movement

  3. Goal Setting

  4. Nutrition

Let’s dive into each of these:


The kids with “IT” were driven by something that no parent can make happen and no coach can give them. These kids were internally driven to BE great. They led by example on the court, rink, field, floor, and classroom. If they thought someone was “messing around” and preventing them from getting better they said something. They were not followers.

I remember talking to a class and one of the 8th graders made eye contact throughout. At the end he came up and said that he appreciated me coming and told me about his training. He told me about what he eats and how he’s trying to stay on the honor roll “in case he doesn’t get an athletic scholarship”. He asked me how he could get better at the “mindset thing” and I remember thinking that by just asking that question you have “IT.” As a business owner who hires people frequently I want that kid on my team (or maybe he can buy me out and I’ll work for him someday)!


If you’re going to train, do it right. Everyone who plays a sport has a coach; strength and speed are no different. There’s a right way to move and a wrong way. The wrong way gets them nowhere, and that’s the best case. Worst case, they get hurt. I hear about high school “lifting programs” with 40 kids and 1 “instructor” where the kids try and outlift each other in a high school gym… what could possibly go wrong? I think I’m a super qualified strength and speed coach and I would never attempt a group of this many kids for fear of someone getting hurt!

Goal Setting:

This one is universal, and in my mind is the most important thing anyone can do to succeed at something. We focus on this with all of our clients, adults and kids alike, and we use the framework of S.M.A.R.T goals:

We also talk about the difference between GOALS and RESULTS. Results are what you WANT to happen. Goals are the behaviors you will change or implement to get you to the Result you want. An example is when someone says they want to lose 10 pounds of fat in 4 weeks. That is a result. It’s a result of the behavior-based goals you will set (with your Fuse Fitness Coaching Trainers) to make this happen. An example of a goal is when someone plans to do a strength-based workout 3 times per week.


Nutrition is complicated and when talking to athletes it’s important to understand that what you say (or don’t say) will impact them for the rest of their lives (no pressure, right?). I always start by telling my clients that there are no “bad” foods or “good” foods. Foods fuel our body and our performance, and more nutritious food is like rocket fuel helping us excel. Certain foods are less nutritious than others, so while pizza tastes great, we probably don’t want to eat it right before a big game.

We also talk about macronutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrates. What they are, which foods provide them, and when you should eat them to fuel your best.

Another nutrition focus is on the importance of water and how it makes us feel good and powers our movement. According to NASM’s Essentials of Sports Performance Training (2010), dehydration can decrease strength by 2%, power by 3%, and high-intensity endurance by about 10%!

To make this stuff more fun, we run challenges with our young athletes. For example, our water challenge is a goal for each kid to drink ½ their body weight in water per day for a week. It’s their responsibility to track it (not mom’s or dad’s) and they either did it or they didn’t. Those with the “IT” factor are the ones bringing in their calendar where they marked off completion each day.

More About Our Youth Training Program (i.e. shameless plug):

We work with kids ages 9-14 to help them develop in the areas of “IT” that we reviewed above.

Our Youth Training program is designed to teach kids proper body mechanics, mindset, nutrition, and goal setting so they CAN excel at their sport. It is available in a couple forms: Private Training (30 or 60 minute sessions) or SPARKS Youth Performance Enhancement Training (classes with no more than 4-8 kids per trainer, in order to focus on form but facilitate the fun of a group setting).

We follow a version of our adult IGNITE, BURN, EXPLODE program design, which is tailored to our younger athletes. It starts with mobility, flexibility, range of motion and balance; followed by strength training; and ending with Explosive movement.

For more information, please visit our website, or email us at

And don’t forget, the Summer Sparks session starts June 10th and the weekly schedule is VERY flexible. See below for info on our next free DEMO!

#motivation #workout #fitness #goals #training #youthtraining #atheletes #ItFactor #athleticperformance #youthsports #sportsmotivation #youthmotivation

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