Exercise Programs for Growing Bodies

   Preparing your child for youth sports means ensuring that their growing body is ready for the demands of the activity they will be undertaking. Just like any exercise program, there is a right and wrong way to prepare your child.  Athletic Development Expert, Brian Grasso spoke to Executive Editor TK Stohlman about this very topic.  Here is an excerpt from their discussion.

TK: So when parents have identified particular instructors or trainers and think, “I’ve done my research and this person has the potential to be a good instructor for my child. Now it’s time to go talk to this trainer/instructor.” What are some questions that a parent could ask this trainer/instructor to help them with this decision?

   Again whether it’s a short term training decision over a couple of months, or they’re looking at making maybe a year long decision for specific training instruction program, what are some questions that parents could ask this potential instructor or trainer to help them decide if this trainer is the best for their player?

Brian: Yeah, I love where you’re going with this stuff because this is really prudent information that parents need to hear. It’s primarily a North American ideology right now. It is infiltrating other parts of the world to be sure, but what we’re doing a great deal of here in North America is we’re shooting for what we call the ’short, quick bio-motor gain’.

   Now bio-motors are speed, strength, power or those athletic commodities that we perceive make us better athletes. And so we’re shooting for those and really trying hard to make young athletes as fast as possible, as strong as possible, as powerful as possible. But the defining part, TK, is that we’re trying to do so in as short a time frame as possible.

   What we’re finding is that a lot of facilities, trainers, coaches and franchise type facilities around North America are saying to mom and dad, “For 0 or 0, I’ll put together a six-week program that makes your young athlete as fast as powerful as possible, as strong and speed based as possible.”

   But that really is inappropriate on a number of levels, and let me explain as briefly as I can. The developing human body and the corresponding parallel developing mental/emotional part of young person really does take time. It’s not about making kids as fast or as strong as possible in six or eight weeks, it’s about developing over a long term, and there’s a lot of ways to look at it.

   First of all, I always say to mom and dad, “Do you really want your 10 year old to be as strong and as fast as possible now and win the plastic trophy at the end of the year? Or do you want them developed properly in combination and in sequence with what the human body is doing naturally on a developmental basis, and have your kid as injury resistant, as powerful, and as strong and fast as possible when they’re 17 or 18, and sports really starts to matter?”

   At 10 years old, sports should be fun and engaging. But as we get older, it becomes more competitive and more important, especially if you’re looking to go on to collegiate or beyond.

   So you really can’t just take training young athletes into short bursts of time. So that would be the first question: How long do you train my kid for? Is this a year program? Is it a six month program? Is it a six week program?

   I would advocate parents to try and stay away from trainers who talk about ’six weeks to maximum performance’, or ‘eight weeks pre-season’. Those things shouldn’t really be involved in youth development; it really should be more of a long term scope.

   And TK, if I could say one more thing about that, the best and most appropriate way to get parents understanding the concept of long term development is to parallel it to academics.

   What I mean by that is that you can’t get a masters degree before you get your bachelor’s degree and you can’t get your bachelor’s degree before you go to high school, you can’t go to high school before you go to elementary school and the reason that is, is that everything is a cognitive building block upon itself. Does that make sense?

TK: Definitely.

Brian: The same with training and developing young athletes. It is not about being as fast as you can be at ten years old, it’s about developing motor patterns and skills and execution standpoints that when you’re 12, you can build on and at 14 you can build on some more.

Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Brian Grasso for this interview.

Written by CaresEditor · Filed Under Youth Hockey Training

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