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.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when an athlete “pulls” a muscle?
The most common response is that the athlete should’ve stretched more or that they need more flexibility to prevent that injury. Multiple studies have shown this to be an incorrect assumption. There is actually a direct correlation between aerobic fitness and injury prevention. Aerobic fitness levels can actually aid in recovery as well. This is why baseball pitchers engage in some form of conditioning on the days that they are not throwing.
So the answer may be evident but let us pose the question of which is better: static stretching or dynamic stretching?
Both, but only with an aerobic component and activities that emphasize strengthening, jumping, or other similar activities. A proper warm-up should include, but not be limited to, some form of running activity laced with a dynamic stretching program and a short static stretch.
Whatever it is that you as a coach, parent, sports medicine professional, or athlete choose to do for a pre game routine, make sure it has scientific validation. Don’t just do something because that is the way it has always been done.
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.