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Age Guidelines Training Athletes

When is a child ready to participate in organized sports or activities (i.e. baseball, soccer, etc.?
      A coach of children show the young athletes the proper techniques, safety precautions, and how to properly use the equipment.  A child as young as 7 or 8 years old can usually do physical activities (such as pushups and sit-ups). In order to perform exercises safely, they must be interested in learning new skills to carefully follow instructions. Exercises can help them ti improve their coordination, sense of balance, and awareness of how to control their bodies.

      Exercises must be geared to their age, height, and weight. The goal is having fun by participating in the sport; however, proper technique must be stressed. Coaches need to remember that adult training is much different from working with children.

      After school unorganized playing and generally being physically active may not be practical due to the lack of children around the same age and the trend of both parents working. The amount of exercise in elementary school during recess is minimal. The traditional walking or riding a bike to school needs to be in groups rather than as an individual for safety.  

The Many Benefits of Exercise

Source - kidshealth.org

     Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Kids who are active will:

      Children who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.

The Three Elements of Fitness

       If you've observed kids on a school yard or playground, you've seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:

  1. run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance)
  2. cross the monkey bars (strength)
  3. bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility)

      Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.

      Endurance or stamina is developed by participating regularly in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, the heart beats faster and a person breathes harder. When done regularly and for extended periods of time, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.

      Aerobic exercise can be fun for adults and kids. Examples of aerobic activities include:

  • Basketball
  • Badminton
  • Ballroom Dance
  • Ballet
  • Bicycling
  • Golf
  • Ice skating
  • Inline skating
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running

       Improving strength doesn't have to mean lifting weights. Although some kids benefit from a supervised weightlifting, most kids don't need a formal weight training program to be strong. Push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups, and other exercises help tone and strengthen muscles. Kids also incorporate strength activities in their play when they climb, do a handstand, or wrestle.

       Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.

      Young children should only take part in non-contact, non-competitive, individual sports such as badminton, pickle ball, table tennis, racquetball, squash, tennis, wally ball, and non-competitive basketball, soccer or volleyball.

How much time should be allowed in a daily schedule?
      Sixty minutes — that's how much physical activity kids should get each day. But as kids get older, increasing demands on their time can make getting a full hour of exercise a challenge. And some kids get caught up in sedentary pursuits like watching TV and surfing the Internet. Even doing a lot of studying and reading, while important, can contribute to inadequate physical activity.

      Meanwhile, during these years kids often come to a fork in the road with sports. Those who are athletic might end up increasing their time and commitment to sports, which is great for their physical fitness. But more casual athletes may lose interest and decide to quit teams and leagues. Unless they find replacement activities, their physical activity levels can go way down.

      But being active is a key component of good health for all school age kids. It will strengthen their muscles and bones and ensure that their bodies are capable of doing normal kid stuff, like lifting a backpack or running a race. It also will help control their weight and decrease their risk of chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

     So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren't natural athletes?

     Kids can be fit even if they're not winning sports trophies. The key is finding activities they enjoy. The options are many — from inline skating and bike riding to tennis and swimming.

     When kids find an activity that's fun, they'll do it a lot, get better at it, feel accomplished, and want to do it even more. Likewise, if they're pushed into activities they don't like, they're unlikely to want to participate and will end up feeling frustrated.

NASPE Guidelines for Participation in Youth Sport Programs: Specialization Vs Multiple Sports

Position Statement
      For young people under age 15, year round specialization in a single sport is more often associated with developmental risks than rewards. Positive physical, psychological and social development is most likely to occur when young people participate in multiple sports and informal physical activities throughout childhood and early adolescence.

      Specializing in a single organized, competitive sport at an early age is a controversial issue. As adults turn to organized youth sports to foster positive development in children, they find that many programs encourage or require early specialization. As these programs have grown, it's become increasingly “normal” for young people to specialize year round in a single sport.

      This change has led parents, teachers and coaches to ask, “Should young people under age 15 specialize in a single sport year round or play multiple sports?” It also has inspired careful research by exercise and sport scientists. Based on research findings across multiple fields, it is NASPE’s current position that:
  • Participating regularly in a variety of sports and physical activities yields many documented physical, psychological and social benefits related to both short- and long-term development and to future participation in both recreational and competitive sports.
  • Young people who specialize in a single sport year round encounter several documented risks, because over training and excessive time commitment to one activity are disruptive to overall development when a young person is not yet 15 years old and is not able to make informed decisions about life influencing priorities.
  • Positive development is most likely when young people have diverse opportunities to explore and develop a range of physical, psychological and social abilities across multiple activities and sports: some competitive and others focused on adventure and self-mastery under different social and environmental conditions.
PDF Guidelines for Children's Sport Programs

          A Word About Competition      
Competition is healthy if there is a good chance of success. For young children that makes small group activities or lead-up games more appealing than adult versions of team competitions, where strategies and tactical skills are necessary to succeed. Putting children in competitive situations prior to having the basic fundamental skills necessary is setting them up to fail. It makes little sense to put children into official competitions prior to having adequate individual skills required in such a competition. Example: being placed in ball games before they can catch or throw – hockey games before they can skate – soccer games before they can dribble or kick – basketball games before they can bounce or pass a ball.

Recommended Reading:

      Laura Stamm conducts hockey clinics and hosts laurastamm.net/Power-Skating, a
      web site which provides a list of hockey tips on a wide variety of topics,  

References:

Introduction - Modifying Skills and Habits

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

Developing A Training Plan

Developing Training Plans for Athletes

Guidelines for Youth Strength Training  Darin Rafferty, Candidate for Master's Degree, USSA.


Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Fitness Training Considerations
    
Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Training Guidelines
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Group Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan
  

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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