In addition to speed and agility development, young athletes need to be allowed to develop musculoskeletal systems that are sufficiently robust to tolerate the repetitive impact forces commonly experienced during aerobic or anaerobic endurance activity. - High-Performance Training for Sports
In a nutshell, that’s strength training, y’all. In another nutshell, that quote also tells you EXACTLY why so many kids get injuries playing sports. You have GOT to get resistance training in the mix!
Below is a single session example workout that I used with my 9-year old daughter that provides lots of opportunities to work on change of direction, coordination, strength, and speed training technique. This session is scalable and appropriate for children in the 9-11 year old range who have adequate physical and psychological readiness:
Football Toss & Form Shooting 5-min
MB Side Throw 2x5/side
Carry 2x1 trip
Alternating Side Shuffle 2x15yd
Side Shuffle 2x15yd
Overhead MB March 2x15yd
Overhead MB A-Skip 2x15yd
Overhead MB A-Run 2x15yd
Side Shuffle to Sprint 2x/side
Side Shuffle to Backpedal 2x/side
Side Shuffle to Backpedal to Sprint 2x/side
A1 BW Split Squat 3x6/leg
A2 Pogo Hops 3x5
B1 Band Assisted Chin-up 3x3
B2 Hands Elevated Push-up 3x6-8
C1 Trap Bar Deadlift 3x3
C2 Box Jump 3x3
Hang Snatch Technique 3x3
Below is a transcript from a recording on my thoughts behind this session:
“It's really important that fun is in almost every part of a kid's workout. Even If each movement isn't all that fun, The fact that you're just laughing and making time for a little bit of fooling around and joking is very, very important to long term adherence to a training plan. Right now, For my nine year old, she is in the Learn to Train phase of her development, which means that everything we're doing revolves around setting the foundation for later on when she's old enough to push a bit harder, be it with her focus, or the weights that she's using, or the intensity overall, whatever it is that we might be pushing. But right now, we're just learning about all those things and learning about consistency and learning how to move well.
For this session, we started off with a football toss and some form shooting for about five minutes. This was us just having fun and and throwing a football. Then we went into form shooting for basketball, and did that for a couple minutes.
Next we started a warm-up circuit that I like to use, which involves a throw of some kind, hanging for time, and a loaded carry variation.
For children who are not involved in a sport focused heavily on rotational power (baseball/softball and golf, as examples), it can be really tough to get enough “reps” and learn the technique. Rotational power is important for all athletes, but it’s complex for those who haven’t done it much in a controlled environment. As such, I've been putting transverse plane activity in pretty regularly so that they can eventually getting the hang of the sequencing. I think right now it's kind of a complex task for both of them.
That the hanging works on static grip and upper body strength; the carry, as well, is his grip strength and total body strength.
Then we go into an alternating side shuffle, and a regular standard side shuffle. This is more just to help them sequence the movement patterns and smooth it out over time.
From there, we went into an overhead medicine ball march, then the A-skip, and finally the A-run. These are similar to the overhead positions that we've done in the past for form running. And also on the front, front rack position with the dowel rod. The medicine ball is heavier, so it's more challenging.
Next we tried some transitions: side shuffle that transitioned into a sprint, side shuffle that transitioned into a backpedal, and side shuffle to backpedal to sprint. The purpose here is to get practice of changing from one task to the next.
For the resistance training portion, I start with the body weight split squat. I really like this as the primary movement for my daughter, in particular, because she's growing so fast. I paired this with Pogo hops for the purpose of Achilles tendon durability and to train the stiffness required for effective jumping.
A new movement for today was the band assisted chin-up. This was a big deal for all of us! From my perspective, I have to trust that a child is strong enough to hold their own body weight for around 20 seconds before we attempt a vertical pull. From the child’s perspective, it can feel like a mega accomplish that comes second to none.
The chin-up was paired with a hands elevated push-up. One note on the push up, you have to teach proper hip position and you have to teach the kids to know what it feels like to brace and move through a push-up before you can expect them to consecutive do push-ups.
We finished with trap bar deadlift and box jumps. The deadlift is looking really good now (meaning my daughter has reliable positioning and can receive coaching cues as needed), so I think we will start progressing it slowly with volume and load. The goal with box jumping was to land quietly while perfecting takeoff and landing form.
Off-the-cuff, I decided to check out her hang snatch with the technique bar (instead of a dowel rod) and it looked really amazing. This was a pretty major milestone, as her strength and stability is sufficient to begin working on this movement pattern.”
Teaching children to train, and build a foundation for a lifetime, requires a positive environment, a variety of exercises, and a lot of flexibility.
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