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Athletics

AFI to overhaul coaching module for junior athletes to limit burnout and specialisation

AFI has also planned to delay the age of athletes' specialisation. The federation suggested that no athlete should be allowed to opt for specialisation in any event before they turn 18.

AFI to overhaul coaching module for junior athletes to limit burnout and specialisation
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Representative photo

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 4 Dec 2023 6:26 AM GMT

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is laying out a plan of action to overhaul the coaching module for junior athletes to avoid burnout among youngsters. The latest decision was among the several steps taken by AFI at its recently concluded Annual General Meeting in Amritsar, reported Indian Express.

AFI is determined to abolish over-training in the formative years of athletes to reduce the scale of injuries and burnout among young athletes.

AFI is particularly adamant about bringing a change to the coaching module as the federation held the notion that a lot of coaches push young athletes to work extra hard for quick success. In the long run, this method does not bode well for Indian athletics.

The Indian federation has also planned to delay the age of athletes' specialisation. AFI suggested that no athlete should be allowed to opt for specialisation in any event before they turn 18.

It is also tinkering with the idea of limiting the number of events for youngsters.

The new plans will be laid out keeping the Asian U18 Athletics Championships in mind. The next Asian U18 event will take place in Saudi Arabia in 2025.

The AFI has also decided that they will field athletes in only selective events like 100 metres, 200m, 400m, long jump, shot put, javelin and discus.

There will be no Indian athlete competing in the middle-distance and long-distance running, triple jump and the hammer throw as AFI intends to limit physical impact on young athletes' bodies.

“The AFI has initially discussed that we should not field a team at the Asian youth level, but then we felt we could lose talented athletes to other sports. We will now field under-18 athletes in limited events. Also an under-16 athlete is not going to be allowed to participate in the under-18 category,” Lalit Bhanot, the planning commission chairman of AFI, said.

Explaining the foundation of this move, Khyati Vakharia, a member of AFI’s medical committee, said, "In my own practice, I have seen a lot of athletes who come to me with injuries close to the muscle-bone junction. And they are one of the most difficult to treat because during the growth spurt of a child, the bone is growing at a faster rate than the muscle."

"At where it is anchored to the bone it becomes tight. So suppose they are over-training we are going to have injuries at the tightest junction. We counsel athletes and tell them to bring down the load but the athlete says ‘but my coach told me to do this’. That becomes a vicious cycle and you are just putting on a band-aid all the time. We see a lot of stress fractures,” he added.

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