When I look out onto the training floor and see college athletes performing picture perfect push-up, planks, squats, etc., I smile inside because I know they are confident, independent, and have spent hundreds of hours laying a base for their current success.
When working with little nuggets we need to be thinking about the long-term win. not the short-term one. As a coach, my primary goal for these nuggets is to establish a rock-solid foundation that gives them the greatest potential for growth and confidence in the future. Here are three pearls to help you produce long-term success
1. Be a good role model
Little nuggets are extremely good at mirroring behaviors and movements, good or bad. If you’re a jerk most likely you’re teaching those kids how to be a jerk. Simply focus on being a kind human. Say please and thank you, smile, give high fives, and don’t be negative when they are struggling to understand a movement. This doesn’t mean everyone gets a trophy and everyone wins. Teaching these young guns how to take a loss, learn from it, and work harder to get better is priceless lesson in my eyes.
2. Do simple better
A recent email I received asked “I have a 9-year-old daughter who plays softball. Would it be beneficial for her to start weight training and if so how do we start and what should we do?”.
Many people tend to solely focus on strength training with young children which is not entirely wrong. However, we need to fill in the gaps with other strength qualities as well. Children need to learn coordination, balance, how to create force, along with practicing bodyweight movements. In my opinion, they have to earn the right to load a movement (squat, hinge, push, pull). I tend to split up one training session into several different fundamental phases. It looks something like this:
Phase 1: Coordination
In this phase, we focus on how to move parts of the body together in a rhythm. It looks like this.
High Knee March 2x15yds
High Knee Skip 2x15yds
Lateral High Knee Skip 2x15yds
Lateral Shuffle with Overhead reach 2x15yds
Phase 2: Balance
In this phase, I challenge them by changing their state of equilibrium.
A1. Walking Bowler Squat x10yds
A2. 1-Leg SLDL Walk x10yds
A3. Lateral Heidens with Stick x10yds
Phase 3: Absorbing/Creating Force
In this phase, teaching them to own an athletic position and how to use it to create force
A1. Athletic Position ISO Hold x20sec
A2. Altitude Landing (12”box) x3
A3. Med Ball Overhead stomp to Floor (6lbs) x4
Phase 4: Speed/Agility games
Many kids spend all day sitting in a classroom and not moving. This phase is primarily used to get kids moving fast and teach them how to produce speed, change direction and decelerate.
A1. Box Drill (sprint, side shuffle, backpedal, shuffle,) with Ball catch
A2. Side Bridge
B1. Voice Commanded Roll-Over get up and go sprints x40yds
B2. Prone Bridge
Split-up your training into purposeful phases and incorporate the lessons learned in each phase in various games. For every four phases of training we will play various games or team challenges.
It’s extremely hard to get anywhere in life by yourself, whether it’s in college, business or your personal life. It’s important to teach kids the priceless value of friends and family. I love using team challenges that force kids to communicate, collaborate, trust, and be creative. At the end of the game, ask these little guys what lesson they learned? What mistakes did they make as a team? How could they have done better? Carefully listen to their answers. You know you’re making a powerful impact when kids take full ownership of their mistakes and never toss the blame to their partner. Here are some games I enjoy playing.
A. Tire Flip
You and your partner figure out how to flip this tire 5x as fast as you can.
B. Blindfold game
Teams of two. One partner has to guide their blindfolded partner through an obstacle course only using voice guided directions.
Teams of two. One player is the QB. One player is the wide-receiver. The QB draws a secrete route on the back of his partner. They go one vs one wide-receiver vs a team’s defender. If they catch the ball, they get a point. If not, the opponent gets it.
Building a foundation not only speaks to their training but to their character as well. Teaching kids how to create relationships, work hard, and say please and thank you can have a life-lasting impact on them that never fades. Use these three fundamental blocks in your training to help spark a culture and build an impeccable foundation for our youth.