Who wants to be the big time athlete in their sport? How are you going to get to the top? In today’s athletic world, some youth athletes are beginning to lift weights. The dedication and the seriousness that I see from 8-18-year-olds is amazing. I am lucky enough to have hard working athletes who buy into the program and trust that I am going to put them in the best situation to improve injury prevention, power, strength, and speed. Parents out there, it is perfectly fine for your kids to work out as long as a sports performance trainer is supervising them. Unfortunately, with budgets, it may be challenging for a team to hire a sports performance trainer to provide their services. This forces you to ask yourself:
What is more important: saving a few bucks or risking your young athlete’s body or career due to injury?
With technology growing, fitness apps are popping up everyday! I am always trying to find new techniques and ideas to help make my programs better. This does not mean that I take the easy way out and use exact workouts from these apps and give them to my athletes. That is just lazy and not smart! These apps are not designed for athletes, they are for the normal everyday lifter. To be honest, I shake my head at some this apps and I would never try them. Come to find out that my athletes are being told to do these works that they have no business doing. They are getting hurt and making us step back and fix these injuries, instead of trying to get better, we are wasting time rehabbing. Some of you would not believe this, but when I played sports, I used to hate working out. Lifting weights was not a big concern for us because we were playing multiple sports. In today’s sports world, young athletes are specializing in one sport. If this is what you want to do, then a year long strength and conditioning program is crucial. Coaches, your strength and conditioning program is not designed to kill your athletes. These programs are designed to help sustain the demands of their sport. If you get them too sore, the risk of bad technique and injuries increases throughout the year.
6 Reasons Why Kids Should Work with a Sports Performance Trainer
1. Keep Them Safe
The most important rule of a sports performance trainer is to do no harm. We are putting athletes in the best possible situation to prevent injuries and/or rehab injuries while improving all phases for their sport. Injuries do happen with a trainer, but these can be rare occurrences and they can be addressed immediately, not swept under the rug. Too many times I see young athletes getting hurt from exercises that they have no business doing. Every athlete is different, and everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. Just because you found a hardcore workout on some app or on a website does not mean that it will benefit your athlete. To quote Dr. John Mullen, “If you want a hard workout, go run up a hill”. There is nothing wrong with sticking with the basics that aim to correct posture such as strengthening the core, shoulder blades, and glutes. These areas stabilize the shoulders, low back, hips, knees, and ankles.
Why on earth would you have kids do push ups if they cannot stabilize their bodies by engaging their shoulder blades, bracing their core, and squeezing their glutes? You know one reason why young athletes have shoulder problems? They have overactive anterior shoulder use (front of the shoulder) and weak and inactive stabilization of the shoulder blades. Combining front overhead motion from their sport with more frontal plane exercises just worsens their shoulders. We are so front-dominant people that focusing in the beginning on the back of the body can help resolve these muscle imbalances.
2. Provide a Proper Movement Analysis Screening
When creating a program for someone, how are you supposed to know what their strengths and weaknesses are? This is why we perform a movement analysis screening for each and every person who walks into COR. These screenings at COR are free and they will show where your athletes weakness are and if they are at risk of injuries. In a nutshell, a movement analysis screen is designed to put you through a series of movements or exercises that will give us every single detail about you. If you are having trouble stabilizing your shoulder blades, bracing your core and/or squeezing your glutes, the movement screening will provide that info to us. Working on your weaknesses and stabilization in the initial phase of exercise can make progressing to harder exercises will be more beneficial in the long run. Performing this movement analysis on athletes and describing why you are doing what you are doing can help your athletes buy into the program and focus on getting better.
3. Teach Proper Form and Understand How the Body Works
If I were to ask you, teach me step by step how to perform proper squat technique, could you do it? If not, then why are you teaching your athletes how to do it? I love working with people who are brand new to working out! You know why? I can mold them into the way I want them to be. Young athletes most of the time are learning how to move, why not teach them the right way, instead of learning bad habits through their coaching. They have not been taught improper technique and it can be challenging to break bad habits. Teaching proper form is not just going through the motions, but it is also understanding how muscles work work together to perform the perfect rep. Proper form involves using the right muscles to work together in order to get it right. If you are not expressing what they need to focus on, seeing improvements may take longer!
My goal when teaching an exercise is to:
- Describe why we are doing this certain exercise
- Teach which muscles are involved
- Educate what structures needs to be stabilized
- Inform what angle you should be at
- Know what it is like to do it right so if they do it wrong, it can become easy for them to fix when they are not with me
4. Helps Improve Coordination
Kids grow like weeds! With their bones growing at a fast rate, coordination can be a problem. Growing up, I played with a lot of really tall kids who had two left feet. What a sports performance trainer can do for a young athlete is to teach them how to move properly. This can include footwork exercises, balance, single limb training and multitasking techniques. Coordination and balance is a key component in sports, especially in technical sports that involve throwing and swimming. If your athlete is lacking coordination, this needs to be improved before even touching a weight.
5. Improve a Healthier Lifestyle
With childhood obesity on the rise every year, young athletes need to be taught how important nutrition is for proper development. You can have the best workout program and the best sports performance trainer in the world, but if you are not properly fueling the body, then seeing positive results may take longer. In my opinion, nutrition is 95% of the battle. Just because young athletes have a fast metabolism does not mean they can go hog wild on crap food. A typical day for an athlete consists of, for example, 6-8 hours of school, 1-3 hours of homework, 2-3 hours of practice, 30 mins-1 hour of strength or dryland. That can be taxing on the mind and body! Think of your body as a car: if you add the right fuel, the car will run smoothly. If you do not, the car may not work. If you properly feed your body with the right nutrients, this super tired feeling can be decreased. It is sad that every year the childhood obesity rate increases! If we can develop the nutritional basics with these young kids that will be sustainable throughout their lives. Nutrition is just as important, if not more important, than the workout. It’s very important to talk with a trainer and hop on board with a proper sports nutrition plan.
6. Builds Self-Esteem
Building self-esteem is a top priority when it comes to improving performance. When an athlete sees that the hard work that they are doing in the gym is paying off in their sport, they work harder! Show me somebody who is not excited when their performance is increasing. Positive thoughts are crucial and what drive us in our sport. What I tell my athletes that walk in the door is to not bring any negativity to the gym. Why live life with negative thoughts? A sports performance trainer will put the athlete in the best possible position to improve in all aspects of training. With this positive self-esteem, this can help transfer over to their sport.
Whether you work with a sports performance trainer or a coach, mastering the fundamentals first before progressing to harder ones is huge! If you cannot stabilize your shoulder blades, brace your core and tighten your glute while exercising, then you need to focus on this. Just because some professional athlete did this workout does not mean that it will work for your child. The professional athletes are bigger and stronger than your child. They have spent many years mastering exercises and progressing toward harder ones. Save your athlete from these minor injuries that could have been easily avoided if they would have worked with a fitness professional!