The Jags 4 (The Four series)

By John Rahme


Ian (Jags) Jagger is somewhat a legend in these parts. He has had a long career starting from lifting with some very strong men. He has had the blessing and to have been mentored, taught and trained by Paul “THE MASTER” Haslem. Bodybuilding in his younger years and powerlifting meets he has experience. Jags has worked inside the NRL system for a many a year, working with some very knowledgeable people. From this he has had a very special interest in the development of kids. This very special has somewhat transformed into a very passionate and desirable thirst and hunt to ensure that any young adult who comes to him for training get the very best of attention and program from Jags. He spends countless hours looking over his works and programs ensuring there are no loose nuts and screws.


Without further ado, the four questions.

  1. What do you believe is the common mistake made when it comes to young adolescent strength development?

I think there is a lack of understanding of LTAD (long term athlete development) for one, and despite coaching young teens for fifteen years it is still widely unaccepted in our society, there is a stigma about teens/kids going to the gym and lifting. In my opinion, some of these “fitness experts” on social media have caused some of the problem because kids are now mimicking what they see on YouTube and yet, they haven’t spent the time, or have the knowledge, to understand how to perform what they have seen.

Secondly, too many coaches want to be fancy instead of sticking with the basics. Sometimes the best way forward is to follow the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) ….

  1. How much pressure, if any, do you feel that the kid’s parents add to the athlete?

Now, that’s a loaded question JR, hahaha! To be honest, I think most parents just want the very best for their kids and will do whatever they can to get their son or daughter across the line. In saying that, I always interview my young athletes to find out what their goals are and who they are influenced by so I get a better understanding of how to coach and work with them and figure out what drives them, and with respect, not the parents.

On the flipside, I do feel for the kids whose parents have had a successful career in the sporting arena. Sometimes they can come under immense pressure to follow in their parent’s footsteps and many of them will struggle to live up to those expectations. Or they may get a leg up because of who they are, when maybe the athlete isn’t really up to the representative level.

I’ll finish this question with a little quote that came from a good friend of mine’s father who was coaching his son… “As your child approaches the field, he’s either excited to play or afraid of messing up. Both feelings are influenced by YOU”.

  1. What is your system which you work through with a young kid never been in a gym before, just raw?

We screen all our young athletes then program them accordingly to their ability along with their chronological and biological age and sporting history.

We are big on our foundation movements, of push, pull, squat, hinge, jump and throw. While sticking to foundation movements there are many ways to regress the athlete until they become competent in a movement so they can advance to the next stage. Probably the biggest part I feel is getting on their level making them feel comfortable and let them know it will take so time learning new movements, making mistakes is ok and to work at your own pace. While I like healthy competition, don’t compare yourself to others, just be you and you will get there eventually.

  1. What would you like to see improve in the way we develop these young kids in the gym?

For a start, we need break the stigma that lifting for adolescents is dangerous and not OK, there is no scientific evidence to prove otherwise. Secondly, understand the stages of LTAD. Unfortunately, whether it’s in the gym or out on the paddock the first 5 stages are jumped over and all we hear is, we must WIN, winning comes in at about stage 5 in the process. As you would know JR, there are actually 7 stages of LTAD but the main 5 are as follows:

  1. FUNdamentals
  2. Learn to train
  3. Train to train
  4. Train to compete
  5. Then train to win,

All these stages are age based, but everyone wants the two-storey house up before the slab dries.

I feel very strongly that gym and strength training should be included as part of all high school sporting curriculum due to the amount of sports that have strength and conditioning programs attached to them.


Ian Jagger has been a friend for many a year and will remain so. I cherish the endless discussions and debates when it comes to Strength and Conditioning especially with regards to the younger athlete. He is a man of great integrity and humility. A mentor and motivator not just for his clients but for myself. If your child is under the care of Jags, rest assure that he is not only in safe hands but under the best care a young athlete can get.