Training Young Athletes to Improve Performance

     Do to the ultra competitiveness of youth sports today every parent and coach is always looking for ways to help their young athlete(s) get an edge over their competition. Unfortunately most trainers, parents, and coaches are trying to train their young athletes by mimicking the workouts of their professional idols. While the workouts that most professional athletes do are very precise and scientifically sound, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is what will be most optimal for our youth.

      Most sports professionals are very sound athletes. They got this way by learning and mastering the basic fundamentals of athleticism. This was done through proper training or “training with a purpose”. To become an efficient and proficient athlete you must “train with a purpose” allow me to explain.

       Let’s say a young athlete wants to become a better shooter in basketball. Most young athletes think that the way to achieve this is by joining a travel basketball team in the off-season and playing 4-5 games every weekend. Although playing a game of Basketball can help one’s play, it may not help him/her with his/her shooting. When playing a game the object is to win, it is very hard to improve on a skill (shooting) with the added pressure of winning. Instead of playing in tournaments or picking up games at the local gym, the young athlete would be better advised by going to a court, and spending time working on the fundamentals of shooting. After all if their shooting technique is less than optimal, all they will be doing by playing is reinforcing that poor technique.

      The same holds truth when pertaining to athleticism. If a young athlete demonstrates poor speed and agility, due to inefficient movement, running through ladders and cones while having a coach yelling at them to do it faster isn’t going to improve their speed or agility. Another example would be, having a young athlete who demonstrates poor running mechanics, running while pulling a weighted sled or being attached to resisted tubing (which unfortunately can be seen at a lot of sports performance classes or practices). The practice time would be better served by going over the skills and basic fundamentals of multi-directional speed, and proper running. These include; strength, balance, coordination, proper arm and leg technique, and mobility drills. Once these skills have been mastered and the athlete possesses efficient movement and proper running mechanics, then added resistance can and will help. This is an example of  “training with a purpose”.

      In today’s microwave society we all want our young athletes to turn into superstars overnight. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best way to become an elite athlete. It takes time and practice. We need to get away from the notion of spending all of our time playing in tournaments year round, putting our young athletes through “pro style” workouts, and spend more time on improving ones skills and mastering the fundamentals. After all, when a child is between the ages of 6-13 that is the best time for the body to grasp all of the motor skills needed to become an ultimate athlete.  The only way to accomplish this is through a process called Long Term Athletic Development. This is where you take the time to master the basics before progressing to more advance and complex drills and exercises.

      If you are interested in learning more on how Long Term Athletic Development, can help your young athlete achieve his or hers full athletic potential please check out www.athleticrevolutionmatthews. Or call (704) 841-4403.

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