Local trainer teaches technique over talent

Published 5:09 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

Personal trainer and clinician Lance Neven isn’t looking for the best or the most genetically gifted student athletes when looking for participants in his program.

In fact, there’s only one question he poses to his students.

“One a scale from one to 10, why not choose to be an 11?”

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Neven has spent the past several years developing a youth program that acclimates younger athletes so that they don’t have to go through the learning curve of experiencing resistance training for the first time while their bodies are adjusting to adolescence in junior high.

The idea was developed back in 1986 when Neven took his first head coaching job at the helm of Greenville Academy’s football team.

He implemented his version of the Salt Lake City-based Bigger, Faster, Stronger program for his players, and the results were immediate—the team went from being 2-8 to 8-2 in a year’s time, earning a trip to the playoffs in the process.

Neven begins working with third graders, and it begins with teaching them the proper technique with PVC pipes as opposed to actual weights.

Once they’ve developed the proper form and technique, the students graduate to an aluminum 15-pound bar that is virtually identical to its official Olympic counterpart.

Once the students hit sixth and seventh grade, when proper weight-training courses are offered in public and private schools, they’re already a few steps ahead—years, in fact.

Neven said that his approach allows him to train any child into becoming a viable potential athlete through dedication, hard work and, most importantly, technique.

“I tell kids and parents all the time that Michael Jordan did not come out of the womb shooting three pointers,” Neven said.

“He went through a process.  All athletes have to go through a process, and it’s just a matter of how much are they willing to spend on their craft, and are they going to dedicate themselves to that.”

But Neven’s approach is as much about mental growth as it is physical growth.

The very first task his students are given is to visualize and write down their ultimate athletic goal that he can then use as leverage and motivation to keep them focused.

After the goals are set, a system is created that emphasizes technique and how it’s used to achieve that goal.

“If an athlete cannot demonstrate perfect technique while they’re doing a task, they will only reach a certain plateau,” Neven added.

“Bad technique will only take you so far, but perfect technique will take you to the top.”

And though Neven emphasized that genetics do play a part, the program is ultimately about asking his students to be their very best at all times.

“Kids always say, ‘I’d give anything to be able to throw a baseball that well, or run that fast, or dunk that well,’” Neven added.

“But would you give not anything, but everything to make that happen?  And you’d be surprised what the result will be.”