It’s fair to say that the majority of high school athletes begin their athletic journey many years before they’re under the Friday night lights. In order to stay competitive or get a jump on the competition, there are a few things that you can do as a parent.
So whether your child is eight years old or eighteen years old, I think you’ll find something in here that’ll catch your attention.
In addition to making sure your athlete keeps a good head on their shoulders, gets enough rest and eats right, off the field sports performance training may weigh heavily on their athletic success. But, what kind of sports performance training approach is best for you as a parent?
What Do You Want for Your Children?
As parents begin to get involved with their children's athletics, you want what’s best for them. Most parents want their athlete to be successful and will do whatever it takes. Take Bill Saffore for example. He is a proud husband and father that values the quality training time him and his daughter share. Check out this inside look at their training:
It’s a wonderful feeling to see your children achieve their athletic goals, right? Personally, I think back to when I had a good game or when I practiced well and got “the nod” or fist bump from my father. I felt the hard work was paying off.
"There may be people that have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do." - Derek Jeter
To some, athletic goals may mean focusing on what their son or daughter’s first sport may be. Do they appear to be interested in what the neighborhood kids are playing? Are they going to follow in your footsteps? Establishing some focus on where their time is going to be spent is important. After all, scheduling time for games and practices will become a major priority.
To many parents, an athletic goal may mean helping their athlete get off the bench and play more. Have you seen the joy in a parents eyes when their son or daughter finally gets their chance off the bench? Hard work does pay off.
Finally, do you picture you and your child sitting in the living room staring at the envelopes stamped with the Florida State University or University of Texas seal on them? NCAA scholarships are earned and not given. If your child is receiving an offer letter from a collegiate organization, most likely there were many years of games and practice accompanied by sports performance training involved.
How Early Can We Start?
There are many questions surrounding youth sports training programs. Such as whether or not your child is old enough to start performance training. Most sports performance coaches will recommend training youth athletes from age seven and up. When providing guidance in athletic training, you need to understand and appreciate that they are still children. But, when put in the right situation with the right approach, significant goals are achievable.
Whatever the reason your children are involved in athletics, they should have a positive experience in their younger years no matter their athletic ability. Fortunately, you’re extremely capable of creating a beneficial and positive sports performance training environment as a family!
What Should We Focus On?
All sports require a certain level of movement efficiency. The best athletes are those with great body awareness and control. Being able to run fluidly, change direction and make explosive movements while absorbing force safely. These are all skills that can be learned and improved upon safely.
We need to understand how these abilities can be realized and maximized to build a strong, fast, and efficient athlete.
Speed & Strength
If you perfect your technique at a young age, you will have a solid foundation to continue improving upon as your body matures and develops.
Hip Flexion - This is the action of bringing the knees up when sprinting. It contributes to the amount of force you can put into ground and the distance you can cover with each stride.
(Drill: High Knee March)
Arm Drive - The swinging motion of the arms can actually increase speed by generating upper-body power, increasing stride frequency and maintaining fluidity and cadence.
(Drill: Seated Arm Swing)
Forward Lean - A forward lean puts your center of gravity out in front of your center of mass, allowing the power produced while running to flow in a horizontal, rather than a vertical, direction and increase your speed.
(Drill: Wall Runs)
Ground Force Production - This is the amount of force you put into the ground when your foot makes contact. The more force you produce, the faster you will run.
(Drill: Power Skips)
Strength training is now an accepted form of training in youth athletes. Despite previous concerns regarding the safety and effectiveness of youth resistance training, scientific and clinical evidence supports participation in youth resistance training programs that are well designed and properly instructed. In addition, resistance training has been found to be an effective method to promote muscular strength and jump performance in youth athletes.
Push-Up - Trains the chest, shoulders, triceps and core
Chin-Ups - Trains back, forearms and biceps
Vertical Jumps - Trains quads and hamstrings.
Deadlift - Essential to developing short- or long-term strength progressions
Health Benefits of Youth Sports Performance Training
There are many health benefits associated with regular physical activity in children and adolescents. Resistance and strength training can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents when appropriately prescribed and supervised. For example:
- Body composition - Cardiovascular risk profile - Reduce body fat
- Facilitate weight control - Improve insulin sensitivity - Strengthen bone
- Enhancing psychosocial well being
Youth athletes are not simply mini adults. They are still growing and often lack coordination. The correct sports performance approach will not only improve performance and reduce injuries, but will also enhance self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image.
At the same time, all athletes are looking to build athletics pillars like explosiveness, speed and agility. At a young age, the approach to achieving those goals may not mean getting into the squat rack. Sure, there will be a time and place that this will become important, but at the appropriate time. Resistance band training is a great way to help build the explosiveness of your child in a safe environment.
VertiMax technology is an option that allows you to apply the appropriate amount of resistance to the bands. You have the luxury of setting the resistance that’s safe to a seven year old athlete, but the option to increase the resistance as your athlete gets older, bigger and stronger.
Value of Scholarships
The average yearly cost of a public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410 and for out-of-state students $23,890. Add room & board, books & supplies, personal expenses and transportation...you get the point. NCAA Division I and II schools provide more than $2.9 billion in athletic scholarships annually to more than 150,000 student-athletes. Only about two-percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college.
Scholarships have to be earned, and student-athletes need to make themselves known. The competition is fierce, so student-athletes need to stand out. In addition to academics off the field, the time and effort spent training will pay dividends.
Mixing up your child’s “practice” approach should be enjoyable. Training them yourself and adding some sports performance training is a great way to create an environment where they don’t feel like they are always practicing and playing their sport, but they know they are still working toward improving their skills. Keeping it fun and mixing things up also helps prevent physical and mental burnout, especially as youth athletes begin to specialize in their specific sports.