Monthly Archives: May 2011

May 07

California’s budget, education and soccer fitness

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

In this article, state legislators were being told of what happens if they keep making cuts to the California education budget. As a teacher, and former student of the system, I can tell you the cuts have been huge.

It’s not like they are cutting hair that no one needs just to look good. They are starting to cut off ears, lips and noses as well.

One of the things that’s been cut is PE and movement time. This would be fine if the kids got the time to move somewhere else during the day. Heck, even Glen Beck was ranting about kids not going outside and playing during a recent broadcast.

So if you can, support your schools. Support your teachers. You can do this by volunteering and asking if your teacher needs help or supplies. You can do this by letting your legislator know the cuts are deep enough already.

But one thing you can do right away is to make sure your soccer player gets the fitness and play time needed for full growth and development. Get them outside and playing with other kids. If they can’t do that,(or even if they can) go outside and play with for an hour or two.

It will be good for them…and you.

And your kid will be a better soccer player for it.

May 06

Running, Coordination, and a Flop

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Click on the picture to watch what happens in this PE class.

This is the state of athleticism for many kids. Watch the running form. Watch how she can’t judge the distance to the pole. Watch her fall down.

It’s pretty funny, yet it’s also sad. A lot of kids are like this.

And how was the coaching before the jump?

Did the coach teach them how to run? Did she teach them how to jump? How to set-up the jump?And how much time and how many repetitions did they get?

Obviously, not enough.

It takes lots and lots of practice (and failure) to get good at something. And even just ok. That pole isn’t set very high. She probably could have stepped over it.

Be sure to spend a lot of time with your kids working on athletic skills. They will carry over to many activities, not just sports. And they won’t make the highlights like this girl did.

To get help to build the strength, coordination and speed that creates athletes, click on Athletic Skills for Soccer.

May 04

Soccer Fitness, Safe Kids and Steve Young

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Steve Young, the great quarterback for the 49ers is urging parents to be careful of their kids injuries, especially concussions. What many parents don’t know is that soccer can lead to concussions too. It’s not just about football.

Soccer concussions come from head to head collisions, but they can also be caused by excessive heading of the ball; especially if the ball is moving very fast. Young teen soccer players have the ability to kick the ball very hard, but since their bones and muscles are not fully developed they are more prone to serious injury.

Here are three things to do to protect your child from these potentially life changing injuries:

  1. Coaches need to limit the amount of heading done in practice.
  2. Urge kids not to head the ball on power or long shots.
  3. If your child complains of headaches or other head and neck injuries treat it seriously. See a doctor as soon as possible.
  4. A strong neck is important to protecting the head. Doing forward and back bridges help build the muscles and the bones of the neck.

One final point. Many kids don’t have the athletic skills needed to protect themselves from soccer injury. They push themselves before their bodies are prepared. This leads to a host of injuries from ACL and other knee injuries to muscle tears and sprains.

To make sure your child is prepared pick up Athletic Skills for Soccer and learn how you can help get your child ready for the game of soccer and improve their fitness, strength and coordination at the same time.

May 04

Jumping Jacks Are Not For Kids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I saw this article today about jumping jacks. Everyone does them as a warm-up and as a conditioning exercise. I don’t like them for kids and here’s why.

A few years ago, I took a BrainGym class and we did a version of jumping jacks to “turn off” our coordination. I couldn’t believe it but it sure did. A balance exercise on a ball went from being easily able to do it for 1 minute to not being able to do it at all. This was for myself as well as everyone in the class.

Fortunately, we did some other exercises to “turn on” our coordination. And they improved our skills in a numerous ways. The drills were all “crossing the midline” or “cross-crawl” drills.

Crossing the midline means your arm or leg will go from one side of the body to the other. Cross-crawl drills mean your right arm will synchronize with your left leg and the left arm will synchronize with your right leg (as in walking or running).

As a teacher, coach and a personal trainer, I’ve seen countless times where these two types of exercises have benefited kids and adults. I’ve also seen where jumping jack without doing something to counteract it led to worse performances.

Here is a quick and simple drill to use instead of jumping jacks. You can use it as a soccer conditioner or a warm-up. It’s called inside/outside.

1. Hop on your right foot and touch your right hand to the left foot in front of the body.

2. Repeat but this time, touch behind the body.

3. Now do the same thing but use the left hand and right foot. Notice how you’re doing cross-crawl and midline movements.

4. D0 10 to 20 of them. The more you do the more conditioning. You don’t need to do a lot to get the neurological benefits from them.

These make a great warm-up before a game…or even a test. Teach it to your kids and let them try it out. I think you’ll love it.

If you want more how to do articles on soccer fitness for kids order my “Athletic Skills for Kids” soccer program. It’s loaded with similar exercises that will help your kid be faster, stronger, and more coordinated.

May 02

A Snack Bar Menu. Warning: Not for Athletes!

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I play basketball on Saturday mornings with “the boys”. It’s a great workout and stress reliever. I look forward to it for the exercise and comradeship. We play at a local parish and everyone there is extremely nice. And I would say easily 25% of the kids I see there are significantly overweight. It’s probably more like 50% but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

So last week, while taking a break (thank God for substitutions), I noticed the snack bar menu posted on the wall. This is what it was:

  • Soda (Get the sugar and caffeine in them early)
  • Gatorade (So the kids can feel like athletes)
  • Water (Yes!)
  • Coffee (Kids don’t drink this)
  • Hot Dogs (Gotta get your protein)
  • Pizza (Probably a step up from cardboard)
  • Cup of Noodles (Nutritious…I think not)
  • Nachos (Be sure to load up the Cheese Whiz)
  • Pop Corn (Think it’s the low fat kind?)
  • Cookies (Homemade from Safeway)

I tell you it was discouraging to see. No fruit or veggies. Other than the hot dogs (ok, maybe pizza if they have pepperoni) no protein. Everything processed, cheap, carbohydrate and fat loaded and crap.

What would it take to turn the menu around? What would it take to get every kid exercising and moving every day for 60 minutes?

And what would it take to change the knowledge, skills and habits of the families? Because after all, they are the ones bringing, buying and consuming the food.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen something worse or maybe you’ve helped turn a school or team around and got them eating healthy. Let us know what worked for you.