If you’re child is in youth sports or you’re a coach, you know how important it is for kids to be strong.
Besides improving their performance, being strong will also prevent injuries.
And being strong will also improve children’s developmental process. There are certain windows for growth and development in all areas of a child’s life. Neuromuscular, muscular and skeletal growth development is all improved when a child exercises. To not exercise and not get stronger misses out on important milestones.
I went and did a search on “Strength Training for Kids“. The number one site that came up was from the Mayo Clinic. You can read the article, but you probably know more than the person who wrote it. They certainly aren’t experts in kids fitness, development or strength training.
But there were a couple of things that were in the article that pisses me off. And the number one thing was the advice to not exercise if you’re not mature enough to follow directions and do it properly.
What the hell? I guess if you can’t exercise properly, you should just sit on the couch and play video games. God know you might get hurt if you do a push-up wrong.
To me, following directions and being safe is not running out into the street when cars are coming. It’s certainly not having to do an exercise perfect.
First, there is no perfect. Every body is different. Expert athletes are always looking for perfect their moves. And they are looking for new perfects.
There are probably 20 ways to do any exercise wrong and the vast majority are not going to hurt you. Doing a push-up with your head up, your elbows out and your back swayed is not going to hurt you. Doing fifty like that might…which is why you don’t make kids go to failure. But one or two…or twenty? No way.
Kids improve by doing. If they are over corrected and over instructed they hate it. Our bodies were made to learn, improve and grow and a lot of different ways. As they do more, they will be able to have better form. Their bodies will learn how to move correctly and safely on their own.
The second part that pisses me off is to “seek qualified instruction”. Now, I’m very qualified. I’d like to think of myself as an expert. But kids don’t need me to get stronger or do different types of strength training.
And if you’re a parent or coach, I’d be glad if you bought my ebook. Or sign-up for my newsletter. But you don’t NEED an expert.
What you need to do is get the kids outside and get them playing. Get them wrestling, climbing, running, jumping, swinging, and swimming. Get them moving.
The rest will take care of itself.
Coach Ron Usher writes about youth sports and coaching. He also writes about youth health, physical education and adapted physical education.