This time of year, many youth athletes start off-season training for their sport. As a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) for close to 20 years, I often designed strength and conditioning programs for high school athletes to follow over the summer.
The off-season is a wonderful opportunity for school aged athletes as young as 8 or 9 to build strength and work on speed and agility. Many other pre-teen and tweens have aesthetic goals that are starting to become important to them, as well.
As a parent, it can be hard to figure out what types of workouts are appropriate for our kids at different ages and fitness levels. We want to encourage them to establish healthy habits and routines, and to take initiative as athletes, but we also want them to be safe.
Here are my 3 top tips for kids’ workouts
1. Train the movement, not the muscle.
Generally speaking, I don’t overload pre-pubescent athletes. In other words, we don’t use much, if any, weights. Body weight training, boxing, plyometrics, yoga, and calisthenics all make for a challenging yet developmentally appropriate fitness program for this age group.
2. Keep it fun.
As I stated above, we want to create the habits that lead to lifelong exercisers! The best kind of exercise for anyone (but especially kids) is the kind that is enjoyed! Find out what they like, play some energizing music, and get a sweat going! Play is exercise. This is a great time to teach our kids that working out can be fun!
3. Focus on Function
When I work with kids, I’m very careful to focus on how they feel rather than how they look. Particularly with young athletes, workouts are performance based (run faster, jump higher, throw farther, etc.) and include an element of education, as well. When a child makes a negative comment about their appearance, we redirect them to a discussion of health and taking ownership of their bodies. Feeling strong and powerful is a wonderful self-esteem booster!
Is your child looking to edge out the competition by increasing their ability to perform at the sport they love?
Is your kid hyper focussed on body and image?
Are you looking to increase their love of movement and health?
Training kids at their home is a phenomenal way for them to stay safe, feel confident, and create themselves in a body that established baseline healthy habits.
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