Hi! I’m Kristen Gostomski—former athlete, now functional strength and nutrition coach, writer, researcher, and mother of two youth athletes.

My interest in sports science and functional exercise began while in high school, after a serious knee injury sidelined me from sports. Today, with all the information I have about functional strength, I’m confident that I could have avoided the injury or at least have come back from it stronger than I did.

I played sports during the early ’90s—before the science of sports performance training had evolved. Some of the people from that generation, who are today’s coaches, currently use those same old-school methods to train athletes.

For more than two decades, I have studied the science of sports performance and have learned and collaborated with some of the most trusted college, professional, and youth strength coaches in the industry. Since 1998, I have been developing and implementing sports performance programs for athletes in a variety of sports. I have trained thousands of athletes—ages 7 and older—and consulted with hundreds of youth sports parents and coaches about long-term development strategies and injury prevention.

I believe it’s important for athletes to make informed decisions about the exercises included and excluded in training routines. Performing non-functional exercises, even performing functional exercises incorrectly, can put athletes at more risk than not exercising at all.

My two boys are competitive athletes, and I require both of them to be on a science-based functional strength program or they don’t compete.


Preparing your body properly for sports is equivalent to wearing a seatbelt while riding in a car. Although there is no guarantee that a seatbelt prevents injury from happening, being prepared lessens the risks and can decrease the severity if there is an injury.

Today’s youth sports culture is misguided in the way of developing young athletes.
Many parents and coaches think that if kids specialize early and practice their sport-specific skills, they’ll rise to the top. Study after study indicates, that’s not how successful athletes are developed.

Some of these specialized athletes dominate early with their skills. Then between the ages of 12 and 15 they are passed over by kids who have taken time to develop general athleticism through participation in multiple sports and have developed explosive speed and strength as a result of a functional training program. Good skills can’t make up for a lack of strength, speed, and quickness. Stronger, more athletic kids will eventually dominate; they’ll also be more resilient to injuries and experience more longevity in sports.

As athletes become bigger, stronger, and more physical—while striving to stay ahead of the curve in order to compete—functional strength training becomes essential for injury prevention.

Although well-meaning athletes, parents, and coaches look to popular fitness and bodybuilding material for information on strength training, very few resources have reliable advice on functional sports training, and most resources emphasize the bodybuilding philosophy of isolating muscle groups.

Bodybuilders may have impeccable physiques. Many also have chronic injuries and few would function well on as an athlete. The bodybuilding philosophy of strength training leads to greater risks for injury on and off the field—and it negatively impacts key athletic components, such as speed, power, balance, and agility.

Remember that strength is not the primary goal of a sports training program. Of major importance is functional strength—the sort of strength called for on the playing field.

At, with a vision toward long-term athletic development, I design developmentally appropriate strength and conditioning programs for youth athletes. I also provide science-driven advice for coaches and parents about injury prevention, as well as strategies to build confidence, resilience, creativity, empathy, sociability, integrity, and resourcefulness through sports. is created by a strength & conditioning coach who has two developing athletes because she knows there is a better, safer way to train.

Kristen Gostomski
B.S. Sports & Health Science, HSSCS, INHC

Kristen Gostomski is a writer, sports performance and nutrition coach, and youth sports development and injury prevention consultant.

In 2003, she founded Team Fitness of Des Moines—a functional training facility for athletes and general clients of all ages. There she developed innovative programs for thousands of athletes in a variety of sports—baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football, hockey, swimming, gymnastics, figure skating, tennis, rowing, track and field, cross country, volleyball, cycling, golf, rugby, wrestling, martial arts, fencing, bull riding, and more.

In 2015, Kristen closed her studio to devote more time to her family, functional exercise and nutrition research, and writing. Kristen’s first book, Functional Core Strength Soccer, was published in April 2018; before next year she anticipates completing two more books—Functional Core Strength Baseball & Softball and Functional Core Strength Basketball.

Check out some of my resources for parents, athletes, and coaches!

Exercise Library

Learn functional exercises for Improved Performance and Injury Prevention.

Functional Nutrition

Learn what athletes should eat to fuel their bodies and improve performance on game-day.

Functional Performance Training Books

Learn how every child can become a better athlete and decrease the potential for injuries with the science-driven, functional methods in my books.

The Colossal Importance of Free Play

Learn why less free play plus more structured training, a current trend, negatively impacts the long-term development of young athletes.

The Risks of Early Sports Specialization

Learn why early sports specialization equates to overuse injuries, burnout, and a decline in athleticism.

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