Erica Suter is a soccer performance coach based in Baltimore, MD, who trains youth athletes (ages 8-25) in the areas of speed, strength, agility, and conditioning at JDyer Strength and Conditioning. She has been a coach for over 7 years, with a passion to teach youth athletes relentless consistency, and to develop them under a long-term athletic development model. Beyond coaching, she is a consultant to coaches and clubs with a mission to provide them with the tools to train their players safely and effectively, and in a fun manner.
1)What has led you into youth sport?
I love working with kids because there are unending teachable moments. My passion is teaching kids new components of training, especially beginners. Kids are also like sponges: super hungry to learn and excited about training. As a coach, it is amazing to see them grow over the length of their careers, both physically and mentally. Admittedly, I joke with my college girls about the time when they were in middle school and learned bear crawling, squatting, and planking for the first time. I value practicing consistency and leaning into the process with anything in life, so it is nice to be able to permeate that onto my youth athletes to set them up for success on and off the field.
2) What has been your biggest influence in your practice in youth sport?
My strength and conditioning coach in middle and high school had the biggest influence on my career now.
I learned how to lift weights, sprint, run, jump and power through conditioning drills as a kid. It was the most fulfilling, empowering, and confidence boosting experience when I was young. And as an insecure high schooler, I needed the gym.
Now, I want to share the power of fitness and strength with every kid I train. This stuff has its way of improving confidence and resiliency. It works.
3) What is your particular area of interest?
4) How do you think this particular area applies to youth athletes?
A lot of youth athletes lack the movement. Too often, kids are distracted by TVs, phones, iPads, so I feel it is my job as the strength coach to expose them a variety of movement, from balancing, to jumping, to rolling, to climbing, to lifting, especially in a fun way. The last thing I want is for kids to have a bad taste in their mouth about fitness and movement.
5) What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Know your “why.”
I always return to my “why” because it reminds me of my purpose as a coach and human: to inspire kids to love movement. Ever since I was that insecure kid lifting weights for the first time, I have seen tremendous value in strength training both physically and mentally over the years. To that end, it is my mission to share my story with youth athletes.
6) What advice would you give to coaches working with youth athletes?
Connect with the kids first. New coaches, especially, feel the need to constantly coach and teach, which is good, but kids will follow your teaching as long as you build rapport with them first.
Be goofy. Have fun. Ask them about their grades. Ask them about a vacation they went on. In fact, be a kid yourself. Relax.
7) Can you recommend any particular resources for youth sport coaches?
The International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) is my go-to, as well as Athletes Acceleration South Shore, and strength coach Jeremy Frisch. I also follow pioneers of the long-term athletic development model, including Rick Howard, Tony Moreno, Matt Young and Joe Eisenmann.
Thanks to Erica for giving us her time and expertise!
Are you a grassroots youth sport coach or PE teacher who wants to improve the athleticism of your athletes?? Check out our Fundamental series athletic development programs here.