Train to Train-Phase 4
Ages: 12-16 Male/11-15 Female
Focus training on the overall athlete based on their physical, mental, emotional and cognitive ability. Typically, during this developmental age range, young players begin to play sports for competitive organizations. It is important that the training process maintain a “player centered” approach. This phase coincides with the growth spurt, which enters the window of trainability that focuses on stamina. It is important to maintain flexibility during this phase. Children will often lose this as they begin to focus more on sport specific activities. During the Train to Train period, many children will make the decision to pursue competitive athletics or move into the active for life phase. Active for life should focus on healthy lifestyles in the recreational realm of athletics.
Those that continue the pursuit of competitive athletics should begin mental training, more advanced technical instruction, and tactical instruction. I would strongly discourage the desire to specialize in one sport prior to the age of 15 years old due to the benefit from other sports. It is encouraged that parents be active participants in their child’s athletic life due to the injury risk that is prevalent at this age.
The Biggest Loser……..Our View of Kids
We have all seen or heard of the show The Biggest Loser and many feel that this is the best approach with kids. Belittle and berate them with the hopes that they will be broken down so coaches can “build” them back up. I can say that this approach is acceptable for adults (if that is what they want), however, is a much poorer approach with children. Adults are biologically and psychologically prepared for this type of treatment, but children are not. We often drive children to the breaking point thus turning them away from particular sports and an active life. Childhood obesity is on the rise and we as adults are trying to attack it from a logical point of view. We need to attack it with a child like passion, with raw emotion based on science. The real kicker is, it doesn’t take science to know that the more active an individual is, the more energy they expend, and wait for it…..the more weight they lose. Now with that being said, lets apply that same principle to coaching children in athletics. Often we pursue coaching from an adult standpoint, trying to accomplish particular goals because that is what we are comfortable doing. Let’s step outside the box and not think of children like our equals—they are still kids and the science lays out a wonderful model of developing them. The kicker is the Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model actually has the potential to lead to better athletes, but still allows for children to learn healthy lifestyles. Look at the way you or your child’s coaching model is portrayed, if it the “Jillian” model (from the Biggest Loser) then the retention rate will be lower for kids to continue athletics thus increasing the potential for obesity.
Learn to Train-Phase 3
Ages: 9-12 Boys/8-11 Girls
The main goal here is to continue to develop general fundamental movements and general sports skills. This stage coincides with peak motor development; therefore, the focus should be on skill development. If an athlete misses this phase, the potential to reach their full potential may be inhibited. Aspects that should be of focus are: skill sequences (ie hitting, throwing, kicking), basic position requirements, and encouragement to perform tasks with their non-dominate side.