Category — Youth Athletes
Last week I discussed how people can get enamored with certain exercises which the often leads to confusion when it comes time to write the program as the individual is paralyzed with all the potential options and overwhelmed with the notion that they have to do everything in one training session.
In that article I also included a link to the old Bill Starr 5×5 program. This program can take you a long way as it affords you the time to work on your exercise technique for some of the key lifts in strength training (you don’t need to max out loads to do the program and even beginners can perform the program with very light weight and just making small increases each week and of course if an exercise does not work for an individual for one reason or another you can simply swap it out for something else).
Once you have performed that program long enough and are ready to move on, a simple way to set up your training would be to concurrently train different qualities. For example, instead of focusing only on strength in your workout you would actually try and perform a little bit of everything - a little strength, a little power (speed type activities), and a little repetitive work (for anatomical adaptation or local muscle endurance).
With most beginners or those that only have a short period of time to prepare for a competitive season this sort of concurrent approach seems to work really well. For the beginner it exposes them to a variety of different stimuli and allows them to make a vast number of adaptations in their overall fitness. For the individual with only a few weeks to prepare for their competitive season this type of program will ensure that they are hitting the major qualities they need for their sport when time is limited (obviously when possible it is best to have an appropriate amount of time to focus on the necessary qualities and not be forced to rush into things).
Below is a simple concurrent training program I used a few years ago for some high school athletes who were familiar with the proper technique for the basic exercises because we first spent time learning them.
Warm up (Begin with movements specific to FMS needs and progress to dynamic activities like squats, push ups, skips, hops, and easy jumps)
1) Box Jump – 3×5
2) Bench press- 3-5 x 3-5
3a) 1-leg/2-arm DB RDL- 3×6-8
3b) one arm db row- 3×6-8
4) core work
Warm up (Begin with movements specific to FMS needs and progress to dynamic activities like squats, push ups, skips, hops, and easy jumps)
1) Medicine ball over the back throw- 3×3
2) Squat- 3-5 x 3-5
3a) Db incline press- 3×6-8
3b) 1-arm cable row – 3×6-8
4) core work
Warm up (Begin with movements specific to FMS needs and progress to dynamic activities like squats, push ups, skips, hops, and easy jumps)
1) Power Clean – 3×5
2) Pull up variation- 3-5 x 3-5
3a) Split squat – 3×6-8
3b) DB bench press – 3×6-8
4) core work
As you can see, the program is pretty simple. Each day begins with some sort of explosive movement – Day 1 = Lower body explosive, Day 2 = Upper body explosive, Day 3 = Total body explosive (Olympic lift variation is usually what I select here. You can choose to do the full lifts or just perform pulls if you are more comfortable with that). The strength training program is just made up of three exercises – a push, a pull, and a lower body exercise. Again, you can use which ever exercises you like. The first exercise immediately following the explosive exercise is considered the “main lift” for that day and is loaded the heaviest. Each of the three days has a main lift devoted to one of the three main movement patterns – push, legs, pull. I used 3-5 sets x 3-5 reps down as the sets and reps will vary depending on (a) how the athlete is feeling and (b) what the athlete did the week prior so that we can progress properly. These don’t need to be full on max effort lifts and usually we are leaving 1-2 reps in the tank with one out of every 4-5 weeks we make an attempt to work up to an RM load (if the athlete is up to it). The next two exercises, which make up the other 2 movement patterns that were not main lifts for that day, are performed for reps to enhance local muscle endurance or for anatomical adaptation (hypertrophy). I usually use 6-8 reps but sometimes we will do 8-12 reps. For these exercises, again, we commonly leave 1-2 reps in the tank but there are times where we may try and do reps to exhaustion. The workout concludes with some basic core work, usually done in a circuit fashion which also will include some sort of “pre-hab” activity for the sport.
- The rest intervals for the explosive activity and the main lift (the heavy strength exercise) are as much as the athlete needs, usually 3-5min, to ensure that they can move the load as quickly as possible (even with the heavy strength work they are trying to move the weight fast). The rest intervals for the exercise following the main lift is shorter and can be anywhere from 1-2min (sometimes down to 45sec).
- Rest intervals can be completely passive rest, however, I do like to occupy some of the rest interval time (especially for the exercises requiring longer rest) with some of the corrective strategies that were used in the warm up which focus on the athlete’s main needs. Of course it should go without saying that exercise selection should be driven by the athlete’s needs and deficiencies. If the movement screen uncovers a glaring limitation that takes a specific exercise off the table then a different exercise which is more appropriate should be substituted, to ensure the safety and health of the athlete, while that limitation is appropriately addressed through corrective strategies or other means necessary.
- The workout looks brief and it is. It should take somewhere around 50-70min depending on the time needed during the warm up. This leaves time for other activities such as practice, energy system work, sprinting, etc. The way these other things fit into the program is essential and will vary depending on the time of year, the athlete’s needs, and the focus of the program. Depending on these factors the workout may be even lower/higher in volume or the intensity may be scaled back/ramped up. The key is to remember that you are training an athlete and not a powerlifter so what you do in the gym is really an adjunct to the actual sport, it isn’t the “main show” itself.
To recap, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. It is easy to get swept away with complex periodization schemes, block periodization, undulating systems, and vertical integration. However, for most beginner athletes with a young training age a concurrent program that addresses their needs and is tailored to complement their overall sports program (practice and competition) will get you very far. As the individual gets more advanced you can begin to consolidate similar qualities onto separate days or into specific blocks of concentrated loads.
Keep it simple. Work hard!
February 2, 2012 2 Comments
I have gotten a number of email questions recently about recovery strategies for high school athletes so I felt that it would be easier to address these questions in a blog post as many may have similar questions and my replies are typically very similar. I put the words “high school” in parentheses because the this information does not only apply to high school athletes but really to all athletes in general.
“What are some recovery techniques I can use for my high school athletes to help them recover faster following training?”
I think the important thing to remember about recovery strategies is that you want to use them when you need them. Obviously there are times when recovery modalities are needed (after games, as the season goes on and athletes tend to get beat up, or during phases of training where there is a particularly high level of intensity and/or volume) but it shouldn’t be something you need to do all the time. You have to consider the fact that the whole process of training is to increase some stress, disrupt homeostasis, and then allow the athlete to adapt and improve. The increased inflammation, changes in hormonal state, and break down of tissue, while often thought of as being a “negative” thing, is actually a normal process and can be beneficial as it is these sorts of markers which tell the body to adapt to the stimulus just placed upon it.
Another thing to remember is that the more fit an individual becomes the better prepared they are to tolerate the rigors of training, the higher their stress resistance will be, and the less they will need to rely on recovery modalities.
Too often athletes want to rush to the ice bath, massage table, or sauna because they want to “recover”, when often times they are out of shape and not able to tolerate the training volume/intensity. Either that or they are not doing the little things well – eating healthy meals, consuming adequate amounts of nutrients, and getting a proper amount of sleep.
One of the best things you can do for recovery is having a good training program with sound progressions. Coaches and athletes are often quick to rush through the general physical preparation phase of training to get to the more sexy progressions like intense plyometrics, max strength work, and high volumes of intense sprints. While there is certainly nothing wrong with these training methods it is important to take the time to allow the athletes to develop a high level of fitness so that they can handle this sort of stress and effectively adapt to it and prepare their body to handle more advanced and more intense forms of training (this is especially important for younger athletes who are less developed). This means placing a high emphasis on general preparation.
Some key things to consider:
- Are you setting up your training program to ensure that the athletes spend a sufficient amount of time in the general preparation phase of training?
- Do your athletes need recovery or are they just out of shape? Have they earned the right to use recovery modalities?
- Do your athletes need recovery or are your training progressions t0o advanced to allow them to make the necessary adaptations, causing them to get overly fatigued and/or breakdown?
- Are your training days through the week balanced with regard to intensity to allow for active recovery to take place within the training program?
- Are your athletes doing the basic things first like eating well and sleeping enough? There is no need to talk about elaborate supplement schemes or other recovery modalities if they are not doing the basics well. For younger athletes this is an especially important time in their lives where the coach can have a positive impact on them as far as instilling healthy behaviors and habits that they can carry with them throughout their entire lives.
Recovery is more than just foam rolling or getting a massage every week. It should be a part of the entire training process not just something you do on Sunday morning.
September 12, 2011 6 Comments
Today I have a guest blog article from Jeremy Frisch. Jeremy is a strength coach in Clinton, MA, were he focuses on the development of physical fitness qualities for high school athletes. His blog, Physically Educated, always has some great information and training insights and some of you may remember that I interviewed Jeremy a few months back regarding some of the isometric exercises he uses in his training programs (CLICK HERE for the interview).
In today’s article, Jeremy goes over a number of concepts to help improve an athletes fundamental movement capacity and talks a little bit about how to work this into a training program so that we don’t, as we often do, get too focused on training one quality in the gym (IE, strength) only to the demise of the key qualities that make us better athletes on the field.
Cleats, Cones and Calisthenics: A Field Guide to Athletic Training
The first snow fall each winter is always bitter sweet time for me. The great thing is that it’s time to take the kids outside and go sledding but ends my weekly training sessions at the local high school football field. As I am all for training hard in the elements, 20 inches of snow doesn’t lend itself well to tempo runs and bear crawls. Thus when the snow falls I have to train predominantly inside and get creative with my training routines.
One of my training secrets (if you really want to call it that) was including these outdoor training sessions for as long as the weather allowed year after year. As a speed and power athlete particularly with football, it’s easy to get caught up in the “get big” phase of lifting and neglect those elements of training that actually tie everything together and refine movement. I have been around one too many athletes who showed high levels of strength in the weight room, but never seemed to put it together when it came to actual movement in sport. Also the idea of blocking out phases of training to concentrate on just getting strong at the expense of all other abilities just never felt right. I can remember the sluggish feeling of restarting speed training one particular spring, after I believed that I needed to concentrate a training “block” on building my strength levels. I was hell bent on raising my power clean ten pounds up from a personal best from the summer before. The reality was that a ten pound increase to an already impressive clean and lack of movement training during that particular time period yielded zero results.
Here then came the realization that the refinement of movement skill can and should be practiced in conjunction with the development of all other motor abilities, like maximal strength and power. As Paul Uram made clear decades ago that “these exercises develop muscle power but only left the individual a crude athlete. He must now embark on a long journey through basic movement patterns, which will refine his muscle power, hone and polish it, molding him into a capable athlete ready for the specific skills of his chosen athletic career.
Through the work of coaches like Dan Pfaff and Charlie Francis combined with my own practical experience, I learned that the alternation of hard days and easy days were much better in the long run than hard days and rest days. The extra work can at first feel like overtraining, particularly when D.O.M.S. sets in from high intensity training. But provided that appropriate activities are chosen on the days, these activities can be used to, in the words of legendary jumps coach Boo Shexnayder “reboot” the system and provide an environment for faster recovery and motor learning. It is with these concepts in mind that I have used what I call field training sessions for a number of years with both myself and as a form of homework for my athletes that I work with. One of the things I noticed was that the athletes, who actually took the time to do the extra work with these field sessions, seemed to make better long term progress in things like general strength, mobility, coordination and work capacity. The younger athletes I worked with main workouts were mainly made up of these field sessions. I felt that the limiting factor for strength and power development in many of my older athletes was simply the neglect of concentrating on the basics during the developmental periods of middle school and early high school. Many of them simply lacked the glue that holds it all together.
In the age of early sports specialization, abolishment of Elementary P.E. and our ever expanding technological gadgetry that keeps our attention in full flexion day after day it now becomes imperative for all levels of athletes and maybe even all human beings (at least in this country) spend a considerable amount of time revisiting the basics . As we all know the basics are what provide the very foundation for almost everything we do. As an adult it’s easy to forget that learning of the most basic of math allowed us to eventually learn more complex math like algebra and geometry. As young boy after much begging I finally talked my brother in teaching me how to play the drums. Before we ever tried to play a basic beat of a quarter notes, he first put my hands through many exercises that taught me how to hold the stick and strike the drum. My very smart brother, probably through his own mistakes, realized that learning these simple exercises led to a much easier time teaching, the more complex actions of actually learning to keep a beat. What he didn’t realize is that learning the basic beats and syncopation of percussion led to a very good understanding (movement awareness wise) to being able to feel the rhythm, timing and breathing in athletic movements like sprinting. It’s no wonder he could run like a deer and years later I found myself very competent at picking up many of the sprint drills with ease.
A very broad description of the basics of movement is balance, coordination, mobility, general strength and work capacity. These can be further broken down into many subheadings that show a much clearer picture of scope of movement and the importance of their constant and consistent refinement. As Kelvin Giles said it doesn’t take a genius to work out that these FMS’s (fundamental Movement Skills) make up everything we do with a human beings personal space. As a young athlete these movements should make up the bulk of the training time. For older more advanced athletes these building blocks should constantly revisited to ensure that advanced training methods are actually being realized on the field of play.
The following is just a small list of the endless options of movements available for the coach or athlete to explore. These movements are nothing fancy or new. They have their roots in classic Physical education, gymnastics, military training and track and field. In order to have some organization when planning training programs I try to group exercises in sequences and groups that seem to fit together.
- Mach Drills: A-B-C march/skip/run, gallop, multi- directional skipping
- Form Running: Arm action drills, Wall Runs, High knee and Butt kick variations, backward runs
- Agility running: shuffle, backpedal, carioca, skate actions, low box-Fast feet drills, agility ladder, crossover step skipping/running, cone drills, obstacle courses
- Open Up Runs: Sprint to backpedal, backpedal to sprint, sprint to 360 spin, backpedal to 360 spin, S-runs, zigzag runs
- Tempo Runs: strides of 50-100 yds w/short recovery
- Endurance Runs: 150- 300 yd shuttle, 200 yd up and backs, 400Meter runs
- Fartlek Trail Runs: Alternation of walking, jogging and running through wooded terrain.
General Strength/General Strength Circuits:
- Bodyweight circuits: Multiple variations of squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, single leg and hip extension work done at varying speeds, intensities and tempos.
- Postural: Remedial or corrective exercises targeted at any specific weakness, problem areas or for injury rehabilitation.
- Medicine Ball circuits: various exercises usually done in circuit fashion at varying speeds and tempos. These can further be broken down into core circuits, power/multi throw circuits, strength circuits, and wall rebound circuits
- Core Circuits: Planks, Side bridges, prone position lifts, reaches and rotations, supine position lifts, reaches and rotations.
- Guerilla Circuits: Multi-directional bear crawls and crab walks, Inch worms, Spiderman crawls, lame dogs, Duck walks, low lunge walking
- Iso-extreme/EQI: Extreme Joint angle/extenstion positions of lunge, wall squat, hanging pull-up, push-up, standing hamstring and single leg squat. Gravity assisted maximal voluntary contraction of the agonist muscles to lengthen the antagonist muscles.
- Static-Dynamic Balance Circuits: Single leg balance hold/single leg hop and stick. Multi-planer single leg reaches/multi-planar single leg hops. 2-3point hand plank positions/1 arm multi-directional medicine ball throws. Bench Vaults, floor vaults. Various activities with eyes shut.
- Sled work: pulling weighted sleds various distances and directions.
- Hops: Forward, sideways, backwards, rotationally, over hurdles, around cones, rope skipping
- Double leg jumps: Broad jumps, vertical jumps, backwards broad jumps, lateral broad jumps, tuck jumps, pike jumps, butt kick jumps, hurdle jumps, 180* jumps, 360* jumps
- Leaps and bounds: Skips for height, skips for distance, linear bounds, zig zag bounds, run and jumps
- Rolling: Forward Rolls, side shoulder rolls, log rolls, crouch rolls, Butt rolls, bear crawl rolls, baby rolls
- Calisthenics: Burpees variations, Jumping jacks, drum majors, mountain climbers, shuffle splits, hops, skips in place, toe touches to reach, 1 leg toe touches to reach, Torso twists, squat jumps
- Flexibility/Mobility circuits: using partners, bands, weights, hurdles
- Yoga/Pilates Circuits
- Jumping Rope
- Boxing, Judo, MMA, Martial Arts
- Quick Drills: various explosive movements combined together and done continuously.
- Manual Resistance Circuits with partner
- Gymnastic series: Parallel Bars, climbing ropes, still rings, horizontal bar, vault horse exercises.
- Trampoline/Mini trampoline Exercises
- Games: Tag, team tag, dodge ball, speed ball, runner and gunners, chase, kick the can
It’s easy to see that there exist endless variations available to the coach to keep training not only fresh but progressive. Getting big numbers is great, refining movement along with big weight room numbers is even better. With enough time and dedication the extra work will start to show itself soon enough. For the young athlete it knows that a solid base is being built for the big stuff later on. For the more advanced athlete it comes in the form of faster recovery, resistance to injury and fatigue. For the busy coach it’s nice to have planned exercise components in place so you are prepared for the inevitable ups and downs athletes go through throughout training cycles. Finally for the person looking for general all around good health and fitness, the above can fill in a lifetime of movement variations to keep one aging gracefully.
February 14, 2011 1 Comment
Today I have a gues article by Michael Boyle regarding foot speed and agility. Mike raises a lot of great points about improving foot speed, and especially emphasizes the importance of getting stronger, which is an often overlooked concept in younger athletes as parents are commonly looking to put their kids into “speed camps” which don’t emphasize basic lifting and strength training exercises.
Hope you enjoy the article!
Developing Foot Speed and Agility
A couple of threads on the StrengthCoach.com forum got me thinking about the question of foot speed and athletes. I can’t tell you how often I hear a parent or a coach ask, “How can I improve my son’s/daughter’s/athlete’s foot speed or agility?” It seems everyone always wants the shortcut and the quick fix. The better question might be “Do you think you can improve foot speed?” or maybe even the larger question, “Does foot speed even matter?”
That begs the larger question, “Does foot speed have anything to do with agility?” I know coaches or parents reading this are asking, “Is this guy crazy?” How many times have we heard that speed kills? I think the problem is that coaches and parents equate fast feet with fast and quick feet with agile. However, fast feet don’t equal fast any more than quick feet equal agile. In some cases, fast feet might actually make an athlete slow–often I see fast feet as a detriment to speed. In fact, some of our quick turnover guys, those who would be described as having fast feet, are very slow off the start.
The problem is fast feet don’t use the ground well to produce force. Fast feet might be good on hot coals, but not on hard ground. Think of the ground as the well from which we draw speed. It is not how fast the feet move, but rather how much force goes into the ground. This is basic action-reaction physics. Force into the ground equals forward motion. This is why the athletes with the best vertical jumps are most often the fastest. It comes down to force production.
Often coaches will argue the vertical vs. horizontal argument and say the vertical jump doesn’t correspond to horizontal speed, but years of data from the NFL Combine begs to differ. Force into the ground is force into the ground. In spite of what Brett Contreras may say, vectors don’t seem to matter here. The truth is parents should be asking about vertical jump improvement, not about fast feet. My standard line is “Michael Flatley has fast feet, but he doesn’t really go
anywhere. If you move your feet fast and don’t go anywhere, does it matter? It’s the old “tree falling in the woods” thing.
The best solution to slow feet is to get stronger legs. Feet don’t matter. Legs matter. Think about it this way: If you stand at the starting line and take a quick first step but fail to push with the back leg, you don’t go anywhere. The reality is that a quick first step is actually the result of a powerful first push. We should change the buzzwords and start to say “that kid has a great first push.” Lower body strength is the real cure for slow feet and the real key to speed and to agility. The essence of developing quick feet lies in single-leg strength and single-leg stability work… landing skills. If you cannot decelerate, you cannot accelerate, at least not more than once.
One of the things I love is the magic drill idea. This is the theory that developing foot speed and agility is not a process of gaining strength and power, but rather the lack of a specific drill. I tell everyone I know that if I believed there was a magic drill we would do it every day. The reality is it comes down to horsepower and the nervous system, two areas that change slowly over time.
How do we develop speed, quickness and agility? Unfortunately, we need to do it the slow, old-fashioned way. You can play with ladders and bungee cords all you want, but that is like putting mag wheels on an Escort. The key is to increase the horsepower, the brakes and the accelerator. I think the answer for me is always the same. I wrote an article last year called “IS ACL Prevention Just Good Training?” In much the same way, development of speed, agility and quickness simply comes down to good training. We need to work on lower body strength and lower body power and we need to do it on one leg.
I love ladder drills. They provide excellent multi-planar dynamic warm-up. They develop brain-to-muscle connection and are excellent for eccentric strength and stability. We do less than five minutes of ladder drills, one or two times a week. I don’t believe for a minute that the ladder is a magic tool that will make anyone faster or more agile, however I do believe it is a piece of the puzzle from the neural perspective. People waste more than five minutes on biceps curls, but we have long debates about ladder drills.
These are also a great tool to show to coaches who want “foot speed.” Sometime it’s easier to “yes” them than to argue with them. Give a guy with “bad feet” a jump rope and you get a guy with bad feet and patella tendonitis.
PSS- I have never used the term “speed ladder.” We always call it an agility ladder if we call it more than the ladder.
October 27, 2010 1 Comment
Today I have a great guest blog by Netherlands based rehab clinician and sports performance specialist, Chi Chiu.
Chi talks about some great information regarding the preparation of pre-adolescent athletes. Chi gives some great practical applications regaring strength training and aerobic capacity for this young group as well as the importance of taking into consideration an athletes biological age, not just their chronological age.
The astrology of soccer (about training pre-adolescents)
Any event with mass media exposure like the World Cup soccer will lead to mass sign-ups of fathers claiming their kid will turn pro one day. They want the best training money can buy, preparing them for their rightful place on the world stage. And that’s a good thing, if nothing else then sport should inspire! It’s your job to create the optimal environment for maximal development. To create a star however, means you have to respect the stars. If this kid is born in December, his chances to become a pro just went down fourfold in comparison with his age peers, born in January. That sounds pretty much like astrology to me. Your job, change fate!
Dutch soccer conditioning expert Raymond Verheijen has found remarkable correlations. By checking the birth months of soccer professionals, he found that 43 percent was born in January, February and March. The rest of the soccer pros are born in the second (27%), third (20%) and last (10%) quarter. That’s an interesting correlation, because the month of birth should have no effect on talent. It doesn’t end here, because sports have an inherent risk of injuries, so kids born in the first quarter have a chance of 25 percent. The following quarters however show a dramatic upward trend of 40, 50 and 65 percent increased risk. Is it all astrology or is it physiology?
While watching a youth game, you’ll notice a difference in size of the players. Although they are in the same league and have the same age, the length difference can be up to 4 inch. It’s the result of a cut-off date January 1st. Even if you have the same age in years, the first quarter players can have a head start up to 11 months. First quarter players are larger, faster and less prone to injuries as a result of physical contact. They are more in possession of the ball and therefore easily noticed by scouts. So, it probably is not astrology, but can a strength and conditioning coach battle fate?
Pre-adolescents at the age of 6 to 11 can grow an inch a quarter and that requires a lot of energy. Intensive training swallows that energy and the statistics shows that it has a significant impact on the growth development. The energy debt leads to a fall on the growth curve to half an inch per quarter. During the summer rest, a growth surge is noticeable, an EPOC of growth if you will. It does not always compensate for the debt and some of the kids will stay behind the curve. This will leave them prone to injury. Before we see whether you can work around it, we have to answer the question whether training pre-adolescents is useful at all.
Fit by themselves
Before puberty sets in, there seems to be no difference in performance between girls and boys from the same age. Children are active and fit and will remain fit until the girls reach the age of 14 and boys turn 18. Besides this natural fitness, we see little or no results due to training. I’ve seen many mothers melting and many fathers screaming, at the sight of their little champion at age 5, kneeling down in the field to pluck a flower during an all-important match. Is lack of results due to lack of discipline (they are kids, you know), or is it hormone driven?
To increase the aerobic capacity of children, you need to get the intensity up. As a general rule of thumb, you have to train around the anaerobic threshold to get a good aerobic gain (Katch V 1978, MacDougal JD 1977). This threshold lies around 75% HRmax for adults and for children a bit higher in the 85% HRmax range (Rotstein 1986). After a decent warm-up, you can progress to interval training with all-out sprints and with resting. It seems to have the largest effect on the VO2max for children as well (Baquet G 2003, McManus AM 2005). Do however keep the temperature in check, because children have less glands and therefore less effective thermoregulation. Two or three times interval training a week is ideal, more won’t increase the effect.
Strength training is also useful and several studies show that a frequency of two times a week, with an intensity of 70% RM in 1 to 2 sets will lead to good results. No hypertrophy is to be expected at that age. A nice circuit with 6 to 8 exercises that can be finished in 20 to 30 minutes would be commendable (Faigenbaum AD 2005, Vehrs PR 2005).
Clearly exercise will induce a health benefit and the most active kids, whose fat were measured at age 12, were slimmer at age 14 and had three times less visceral fat than the most sedentary kids (Riddoch CJ 2009). Strength training has of course a positive effect on strength, but also on bone density. It also has a positive effect on their self-esteem (Faigenbaum 2005). If a kid falls behind the growth curve, it is probably wise to bring down the volume. Don’t be afraid to cut the team in half. Kids that were born in the first half year train three times a week, while the other half gets to train once or maybe twice a week. Although I implemented it for only a year, I’ve noticed positive results because of it. More fun, more self-esteem, less peer pressure and less injuries.
Putting it all together
Watch the length and the growth development of the children. Make sure that they exercise healthy and have fun at what they do. Keep them flexible and introduce other forms of trainings besides soccer. Although pre-adolescents gain less with training than adults, it can be useful. As a safe and sound guideline you can use:
Aerobic: twice a week, 85% HRmax interval for 30 minutes
Resistance: twice a week, 70% RM, 1-2 sets, 6-8 exercises
You can do strength training with weights, but also with body weight exercises during soccer practice. Although there are clear benefits to strength training, explaining goals to young children is not useful. The big difference between kids and adults is that an adult needs to know why he has to do something, while for kids it must be fun or new. Basic moves like lunges and squats are excellent, but you have to adjust them. For the young kids you can introduce frog leaping (explosive squats) while they have to circumvent storks (agility work). Or let them be storks and let them hop after the frogs (single leg squats) or let them take big strides (walking lunges). You can introduce weights as bars of gold or food they need to transport. So, hold your speeches and get crea(c)tive!
Having the same age in years does not mean that they have the same age metabolically. The difference of eleven months between kids of the same age, can make a huge difference. Although the science is not completely in yet, growth curves and birth months are practical indicators for appropriate training, volumes and scouting. It will add to your chances to get the most out of their potential. No astrology required, just basic science, a lot of love and common sense.
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Chi L. Chiu (39), M.S. is a rehab clinician, personal trainer, vitality coach, educator and presenter. He is the founder and director of Chivo physiotherapy, Chivo vitality coaching and Chivo education, a continuous professional development (CPD) center, specialized in courses medical fitness and lifestyle management. All his courses are accredited by the Dutch associations of physiotherapy, dietitians and personal trainers. He holds a degree in nutrition and one in health sciences and is currently working on his master (last one!) in psychology. He loves learning and spends 50 days a year on seminars, courses, conventions, etc. His approach is always holistic, which means he will include nutritional, physical and psychological interventions when appropriate. He is a consultant for sports coaches on a variety of topics and is assistant coach in little league for fun. He is not a typical strength coach, but his ‘I don’t like sports, I like results’ philosophy, keeps him close to elite level sports, where failure is not an option. He does not maintain a blog, but he posts regularly on his facebook page and welcomes you to join.
September 8, 2010 3 Comments