Training kids (under 16yrs) will NOT stunt their growth if done correctly. Many people are shocked to see an 8-year-old walk into the facility and start his warm up routine. Why would an 8 year old come to Corexcellence? Either to become a better player or just improve general athleticism. Before I continue here is a study done in 2001 by the American Pediatrics Association (Click Here). This study states that if everything is performed correctly, then kids will benefit more from strength training.
This summer I had the pleasure of training many kids between the ages of 7-14 years old. I must say it was spectacular and a great learning experience. The first thing that amazed me when training kids was their ability to stay focused on the task at hand. We tend to hear so much about kids having a short attention span but that was not the case. With paying close attention to each individuals personality I was successfully able to get 1-3 kids at a time performing different exercises.
How Do They Train?
When it comes to kids things are not that much different from adults in terms of the thought process behind programming. At Corexcellence the focus is on building a solid foundation for the future. That means working on things like breathing, running, mobility movements vs. exercises, stretching, and body awareness. The only difference when training kids versus adults is the exercise selection.
What I Learned
1. Kids are fast learners.
After teaching them the warm up on their first day, I would come in the warm up room to supervise them. That’s when I noticed that 95% of the kids remembered the whole routine on their own. I honestly believe that when someone is interested in something they retain the information.
2. Practice through repetition.
This may just be a given but it holds just as true with kids. For many of them it will be their first time walking into a weight room. For the first 5 days they will do the same training routine. This way they have a chance to go over the same movements as often as possible. In the first 3 sessions alone I can see a kids squat, row and push up improve. Here is a video of one kid who progressed from push ups on a box, to the floor, to feet elevated and is now doing clapping push ups on a box.
3. They don’t like to quit
This may come as a surprise to most. If you have ever trained at Corexcellence you can understand how uncomfortable and challenging the conditioning we do after sled work can be. Let it be sprints, shuttle runs or Jacobs Ladder, it is tough physically and also mentally. Every now and again I will catch a kid after his second to last set lying down on the turf as if they are about to take a nap. I then mention to them “Ok we will end it there” 100% of the time so far their response have all been “No! I am going to finish it.”
4. Have fun
Yes I have a job to do when working with kids but first and foremost it is important for them to have fun. I want their times spent at CoreXcellence to be an enjoyable time. The last thing I would want is for a kid to come to training with the feeling of being sent to the Principal’s office. They all understand why they are coming to the gym, so if after all hard work is done and they want to play swords with the foam rollers or let the balloon fly in the air after doing breathing, I let them do it. If I think back to when I was their age I would have done the same thing. At the end of the day “Let Kids be Kids”.
My Best Moment
My most memorable moment was when one of the kids (I’ll call him Adam) who has been training for about a month, had his friend (Bobby) join him. What happened next warms my heart and makes me smile till this day. Adam coached Bobby throughout the entire warm up. When I say
coached I mean corrected Bobby’s positioning in order to feel the stretch, guided his ribs down when his was blowing up the balloon and made sure that his toes were pointed when rolling out the calves.
At the end of training Adam tested Bobby to see if he remembered all the rolling and stretches. I can honestly say that was one of the proudest moments I had as a coach.
Chris Latham, Accomplished Power-lifter and Fitness Model
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