Managing a Sports Kid’s Taper

An athletic taper is very much a learnt skill acquired by knowledgeable sports coaches.

Below are the main points a sports coach needs to be aware of:

  • a 'freshen up' is the period of the training program just before a major event or competition
  • the idea of freshening up is to bring the athlete to his or her peak performance levels to achieve great results
  • the freshening up period can be anywhere between 4 weeks to a matter of a few days long
  • all physical and mental athlete fatigue must be eliminated by the time of the competition
  • children and adult bodies all react differently during the freshening up period
  • sports coaches need to experiment with individuals before the athletes major competitions or events to ensure they get the athlete to peak correctly
  • freshening up techniques vary depending on the sport
  • athletes often complain of feeling slow and ‘sluggish’ during the freshening up period (this is normal)


When I am coaching team sports the taper period is relatively short to non existent with the kid’s. One or two sessions a week of a small amount of kid’s fitness, game skills and drill exercises for kid’s doesn’t require me to greatly freshen up the athletes.


The next day at school, after I have given them an ‘easy session’, they will just run around harder and faster at school or in the backyard!


Just before a major competition or event I will ‘mentally’ prepare the kid’s by:

  • talking them through what is going to happen at the competition
  • expectations of themselves and the team
  • ensuring they have positive thoughts about themselves, the team and the competition or event


Kid’s sports that involve many hours of training such as running and swimming for example do require the coach to add a freshening up period to the kid’s training program.


A taper should:

  • slowly decrease the time and training distances completed each training session
  • contain short periods of high intensity training
  • increase the rest periods between these high intense periods of exercise


Finally a taper is not going to increase a poorly trained athletes chances of a peak performance. Its purpose is to allow the athletes body to absorb the training stimulus, recover and then totally maximize all resources on competition day.


Also kid’s need to ensure correct sports nutrition and hydration is being practiced.


And that 10 hours plus sleep per night is being achieved.