Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Training for Kids

By: Joel Luedke

I've spent quite a bit of time this past couple of weeks working some youth camps in a variety of sports.  They have ranged from football, wrestling, basketball and gymnastics.  Ages have ranged from 5-6 year olds up to entering high school and through most of them there is a glaring lack of body control.  Now, I was always told you can't spell 'fundamentals' without 'fun' and while it finally makes sense to me now it most definitely did not back then.

What this post is geared to is how you can start training kids at a young age without putting them through intensive weight sessions that could potentially stunt their growth (thats not a real thing but a old tale that won't die).  There are so many things they can do to help them learn body control and have fun at the same time.  We list some ideas below:

1. Body Weight Exercises
The gymnasts that I have been around seem to have the best body control (and for good reason) and it is a great place for people to start out.  You could replace or substitute in martial arts for gymnastics and get a lot of the same benefits.  Getting kids out early running and jumping and figuring out how to use their body is huge.  All those basic skills will transfer over to sports that the young athletes might venture into and the rate of injury will decrease dramatically.  This is a great place to start and one I personally wish I had more interest in as a kid.

2. Put the FUN back into Fundamentals
It is not a lot of fun to learn how to run, jump, stop, cut and change direction so we have to make it that way.  Put a game to it and use the game as teachable moments.  When they are learning how to play the game and need to move faster and more efficient to win...BOOM there is your chance to throw in information about the best way to perform movements and motions that they will need.

This translates all the way up to the college level as I know a coach likes to use a good old game of tag to assess the ability of players.  Yep, as simple as that, tag.  You can see acceleration, declaration, cutting, rotation, change of direction and best of all planning and decision making.  Try these to make it fun.

3. Start Teaching Movements Young
There is nothing wrong with teaching full squats and mobility to a young athlete as long as you don't load them up too early in their career.  Make it a game.  A great story of a top USA weightlifting coach was his son would do a snatch move with a PVC pipe and then load it up and go around the house in his power wheel before coming back to hit another snatch.  He thought it was a great time and he was able to keep full motion well into his teenage years (its amazing how quickly you can lose it).  Again all the motion and movement will help transfer to the field and the sport of the kids choosing and as shown in the second video a whole lot of fun for the kid when they hit a PR.

And for more entertainment, finish on this one.

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