Effective Strategies to Develop Youth Athletes!
Parents are often looking for ways to turn their child into the next Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders, or Bo Jackson. No formula has been developed to ensure a child becomes one of the greats, there are just simply too many variables to account for. With that being said, there are still elements of youth development that are in our control. There are fundamental principle that we can apply to youth training that will allow them to develop in an effective and healthy manner. Let’s take a look at some effective strategies we can apply to develop our youth athletes!
How do you get athletes faster? It’s actually quite simple, run fast. The great part about young athletes is they can sprint a lot without getting tired. Because they are not capable of producing as much force into the ground than developed athletes, they are able to run repeated efforts close to maximal speed. We like to use chase games, with varying starting positions to develop speed in our athletes. There is not too much concern to correct form at such a young age as they will self organize when they are competing against others. Their bodies will start to figure out strategies that will make them run faster when running alongside, in pursuit of, or running away from another athlete. That is why competing with others is such a critical aspect of improving speed in youth athletes.
Jumping is a great way to make athletes explosive. It will teach them how to not only generate large amounts of force, but to do it quickly as well. In youth athletes we want to give them a wide range of plyometric abilities to teach them how to apply and absorb force in all directions.
Body Weight Mastery/Calisthenics
These include activities such as rolling, crawling, cartwheeling, different landings, low level plyometrics like jumping rope and skipping. It can also include body weight exercises such as squats, push ups, planks, and chin ups. These are all fundamental activities that will teach them how to control and manage their own body in space and develop strength!
Strength training is a great tool to improve a young athletes force production capabilities! These can include the exercises above, but additionally include things like tug of war, climbing, obstacle courses. Appropriate loaded exercises with implements like dumbbells, barbells, and medicine balls have their place as well as long as they are executed with proper form. These include squat, pressing, and pulling variations.
Pick Up Games
Games are a great way to develop overall athleticism of a young athlete. Games such as monkey in the middle, dodgeball, pickle, keep it up/taps, or one our favorites tag! These can also include pick up games of your typical sports such as basketball, baseball, football etc. These are all incredible ways to develop speed, agility, and spatial awareness! One of the most important element of this is letting the kids organize themselves. Let them create the rules, and decide who wins and loses.
Whether a young athlete is at practice, has training, or is playing with friends we want to make sure they are enjoying the process. Not saying that everyday should be sunshine and rainbows as there are lessons to be learned from adversity, but we want to make sure kids create a positive association with physical activity at a young age! This is a crucial element to their long term development. If they enjoy physical activity in whatever form it comes in, it is more likely for them to keep it as a habit as they get older and start to specialize.
We pride ourselves in applying the strategies above to ensure the development and athletic growth of our youth athletes! We have them compete in a fun and engaging environment, where they get to train hard and enjoy doing it at the same time!