Youth Fitness and Athletic Development

Throughout the year I have written blogs and articles in our
Newsletter or website on ideas and strategies when it comes to optimal athletic
development and training programs for our youth, ages 6-18. I thought I would write a synopsis on
everything that has been written.

When training young athletes it is best to put these children in groups that will best
enhance their athleticism and fitness level with their physiological,
biological, chronological, emotional, and social development in mind. So, with
this in mind we like to group our children into three groups. Ages 5-9
(DISCOVERY), 10-13 (EXPLORATION), and 14-18 (TRANSFORMATION). Keep in mind there
will always be exceptions to the rule.

DISCOVERY, with this age group the key ingredient is providing global stimulation from a
movement perspective. Younger athletes must experience and eventually perfect a
variety of motor skills in order to ensure both future athletic success and
injury prevention. Developing basic coordination through movement is a must.
Teach movement skills and coordination through situations and games. At this
age 100% of the training should consist of General Physical Preparation. When
coaching these young athletes an “outcome-based” coaching style should be
implemented (don’t get caught up in wanting to “over-coach”). Children at this
age will learn best through discovery with a little guidance.

Examples would be games that include skipping, running, crawling, climbing, hopping, jumping,
pulling, and pushing in multi-directional and multi-planar movements. Simple
games that introduce throwing and catching are great to do at this age also.

EXPLORATION, with this age group “outcome-base” coaching is still a must, but with a little bit
more of guidance and instruction. Multi-planar and multi-directional movement
is still a must. Still keep it FUN!!! Even children, in this age group, who
choose to pursue a single sport, as much as 80% of their training time should
consist of General Physical Preparation. This is a great time to start
implementing Technical Concept Development.

Examples would be teaching proper force /absorption technique (jumping, landing, strength),
teaching angles of force (deceleration and acceleration), and movement economy
(speed, agility, and strength).

TRANSFORMATION, with this age group, a more concerted training application takes place.
Coaching becomes more “form-based” and technical. Even athlete who have started
to excel in one sport, and have the aspiration of taking it to the next level,
training should consist of 50% General Physical Preparation. Not until these
athletes enter college should their training program consist of 80% -90% of
“sport specific” training. I can’t emphasis how important it is that we don’t
get caught up with the concept of  “sport specific” training, until these children reach late adolescence!!!!

Mobility training (range of motion) through the hips and upper torso not stretching is crucial at
this age. Muscle tissue quality (foam rolling) is a must. A good active warm up
(dynamic warm up) is important to do before any speed and agility work. In the
weight room emphasis should be placed on proper technique and execution and not
on how much someone can lift. Teaching efficient power execution and movement
should definitely be part of the training program. At the end of the workout a
good cool down that consist of static stretching is recommended. One more point
of interest that must be brought up is the importance of proper nutrition and
rest (recovery) when dealing with all young athletes and children.

If all coaches, trainers, and parents would follow these simple guidelines we would produce a
lot more happier, healthier, and superior athletes. Even if your child shows no
interest in sports we would have still installed a solid foundation of fitness
that they can carry with them through adulthood. To find out how we can help
your child achieve their athletic and fitness goals please check us out at

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy summer.


Till next time, coach George

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