To Your Health: Getting the Most of our Young Athletes

All parents that have kids participating in sports want them to enjoy what they are doing. Sports at an early age can lead to lifetime lessons that can be valuable for all kids. But for the kid and the parent, the ability to compete at a moderate level can enhance the enjoyment for all. Unfortunately, all kids are not born with the physical and athletic prowess to be the stars of the team. If there’s one thing I’ve seen in my 30 plus years of coaching and training it’s that with a minimal amount of athletic ability, an athlete can compete if they are willing to work. The below average athlete can become average, the average can become good, the good can excel and your superior athletes become the superstars. Before we go any farther I must state one important fact of this philosophy. This must be something the young athlete wants instead of the parent pushing the kid beyond their realm of work ethic. There is a fine line between encouraging and an obsession for our child to become great. Let them decide how much extra time they want to put into a sport and it will result in a happier and more fulfilling experience for all.

Now that we have a commitment, here are some things that I believe to be essential in the training of a young athlete. While most kids are willing to practice the specific skills involved in the sport they play, I believe other training is necessary to maximize one’s ability. There are many programs and training tools that can benefit athletes today, but due to the active schedule of our kids and the costs, it is not always feasible to get this training. However, there are things a parent can do at home with their young athlete that can be quite beneficial and take very little time to do.

In my opinion, explosion from the knees to the hips, flexibility in the hamstrings and hips, and core strength are the areas that are vital in athletic performance. Training young athletes to flex at the waist as opposed to bending with their back is a little thing but is most beneficial when it becomes natural. To have power in the lower body you must be flexible in the hips and hamstrings. (These stretches can be seen in the picture) Another exercise that can be done from home to enhance hip flexibility and explosion are explosive jumps (shown in the pictures). Use a light weight or even a basketball and hold with both arms to the chest. Make sure the back stays straight and the glutes drop as close to the ground as possible. Then do repeated jumps in sets of 10-15 reps. If a young athlete can master this technique, it can go a long way in maximizing their potential in their lower body.

Strength or resistance training will become important as the young athlete progresses, but core strength can be done at an early age with little or no risk. Everyone knows exercises that can strengthen the core. My only suggestion would be to make planks part of the core workout.

So there you have my 20 minute workout that can be done at any age right from home. To make it more fun, you can participate with your child. If time is not an issue and you are looking for a more advanced program for your child, call me at 336.407.3143 about our athletic performance classes for all ages at Wilson Park Athletic and Training Center.


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