8 Things Young Athletes Need to Master

I believe we should be teaching and incorporating basic body weight movements with all our kids. I mean as skills coaches we put so much time and effort into teaching kids how to bowl faster, catch and hit straight drives, yet the same kids often lack strength, mobility and flexibility to really own that movement and get efficient with it. First and foremost the training needs to be safe and fun but I believe incorporating these movements into their Physical Education classes and sports training is very important.

  • Body Weight Squat - The squat is one of the most basic movements for body awareness and strength. It is also forms the foundation for movements like jumping, skipping, hopping and bounding. If you watch a baby pick something up off the floor, they seem to be able to do this with perfect form yet as we age and develop bad habits we seem to lose this primal movement pattern
  • Push Ups - It is essential that these are done properly. I see so many coaches getting young kids in a group setting to do push ups and almost none of them do any with good form. Body position is really important. A progression may look like this: Start with planks on elbows – planks in the start position of push up – move to incline push ups on a wall, then a bench – push ups from knees – full push ups with feet on the ground – load the push up with weight vest or plate
  • Hip Hinge - Hinging at the hips, while maintaining a neutral spine, is very important for young athletes to master. Cueing them to “push the hips back” really helps. You may use simple drills like picking up a medicine ball or light kettle bell from beneath their feet and getting them to push their hips back to touch a wall behind them with their bum.
  • Jump Rope - This is a great low level plyometric drill that improves coordination and gets the heart rate pumping.
  • Skipping - This exercise teaches coordination and control of the opposite arm and leg and helps maintain a good foot strike i.e. staying on the balls of the feet which is very important for running, sprinting and all sports.
  • Lunge/Split Squat –The narrow base requires appropriate starting stability and continued dynamic control of the pelvis and core. This is a really good one for everyone (not just the kids!) to learn and master.
  • Landing - Learning how to stick a landing position and have good posture will make a huge difference to kid’s ability to execute learned skills in their sport and reduce their risk of injury. At the end of the day it’s all about keeping the athlete healthy and out on the field for as long as possible.
  • Jumping/ Hopping– Mastering jump and hop mechanics will again make a huge difference for young athletes looking to improve their results out on the sports field. It’s all about timing of the arms and legs and maintaining good posture though the jump or hop.

Have a look at the videos below. These are babies “owning” the movement. Why can’t our 8, 9 and 10 year old kids do the same?

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