1) Think Long Term – Too often we get caught up in how our child is performing in this game or this season that we overlook the fact that they have YEARS to develop and grow! What would be better – being the best on your 11-14 team or continuing to improve through high school and college? No one wants to peak as a Freshman or Sophomore!
2) Avoid Specializing too Early – This goes right along with number 1. For the early years of our lives our Central Nervous System is extremely pliable, this is our prime time to learn as many skills and patterns as possible. Aim for diverse experience and the development of a larger athletic base – there is so very much more for developing young athletes to gain from tag, ultimate frisbee, and any other random sport than just hammering down fielding drills year round.
3) Focus on Lower Intensity Exercise – this is not saying to avoid hard work, quite the opposite, spread the work out over longer periods of time. Being active for the majority of the day with sustainable activities is much better than only move for 30-60 minutes and trying to smoke the kids during that time.
With any kind of strength work we should focus on efforts on weights that can be used for longer stretches of controlled movement. 10-20 reps or 30+ seconds if taking advantage of sleds and carries.
4) You Have to Pay Attention to the Brakes – If you’re not building the necessary joint strength and teach athletes how to land and change directions first, making athletes faster or more explosive could easily be setting them up for devastating injury.
5) Relative Strength is King – It still baffles me that many parents are scared to let their kids “strength train”, yet they have no problem throwing their kid on a football field or wrestling mat! Strong, healthy muscles also act as armor to help support and protect the body against injury, and ONLY muscle can cause movement.
Unfortunately most parents associate “strength training” with powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting or professional bodybuilding – all of which are sports in and of themselves. But the truth is that “strength training” merely means performing exercises that help strengthen the muscles of the body – and for this there’s great value in bodyweight exercises as well as sleds and various carries.