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.
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