When training junior cyclists there are certain considerations that need to be addressed that you wouldn’t need to think of if you were training an adult.
One issue that needs to be addressed dependent on the maturity and age of the client, is that it may be unsafe for them to be riding without a partner. They may not be incredibly aware of the rules of the road and they may be difficult for drivers to see if training on the road. Making sure that they are riding on safe roads or trails, this should be addressed very early on in the process.
Also, when training juniors, the parents are as much your client as the athlete and communication with them can be helpful because many children have difficulty communicating concerns or problems they are facing and parents can often times have a more objective view on the situation.
When training juniors it’s incredibly important to prioritize fun. Your job should really be to make sure that there is longevity in the sport, so making sure that the child enjoys riding and getting better needs to be addressed, even if it means a slower increase in ability, in the long-run training volume and intensity can be added to match increases in desire and motivation.
Intensity over Volume
When training adults increasing volume is a sure way to increase training stress and therefore performance, this is dangerous with juniors because increases in volume is the quickest way to ensure burnout. When creating a schedule for juniors it’s typical to see more intensity to volume ratio just because it’s safer for longevity whilst improving performance. When training children under 14 years old a the max number of hours should be around 10hrs/week, 14-16 years old a safe number of hours should be around 12hrs/week max, and between 16-18 15hrs/week would be the max unless the child is on winter or spring break and just desires to ride more.
Lastly, the amount of structure that should be given in the workouts depends on the maturity and desire of the client. If they are extremely motivated and mature enough to do the workouts as prescribed then you should give them what you would give an adult, if they seem to become unmotivated or aren’t having as much fun then you should immediately switch to less structured workouts, you could do this by assigning workouts by Perceived Exertion or telling them flat vs. hilly course.