While historically adolescents were removed from their parents to prepare to become warriors, this process repeats itself in modern times but with the outcome being athletic performance. This review considers the process of developing athletes and managing load against the backdrop of differing approaches of conserving and maximizing the talent available. It acknowledges the typical training “dose” that adolescent athletes receive across a number of sports and the typical “response” when it is excessive or not managed appropriately. It also examines the best approaches to quantifying load and injury risk, acknowledging the relative strengths and weaknesses of subjective and objective approaches. Making evidence-based decisions is emphasized, while the appropriate monitoring techniques are determined by both the sporting context and individual situation. Ultimately a systematic approach to training-load monitoring is recommended for adolescent athletes to both maximize their athletic development and allow an opportunity for learning, reflection, and enhancement of performance knowledge of coaches and practitioners.
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The author is with the Athletics Dept, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.