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Just wanted to ask if any of you intentionally target enhancing Athletic Development in your training sessions with kids? E.g. Movement skills, mobility, coordination, strength, speed, power etc?
if so, what is your strategy? Do you use stand alone sessions to focus on it? Do you include it in your warm up? What activities do you use and why?
Interested to hear about your experiences!
I have tried two approaches with different age groups.
With our youngest (Pre-school & Reception) we always start with a “movement skills” warm-up, exploring different ways of moving - fast/slow; forwards/sideways/backwards; on two feet/hopping/skipping/bear crawl - followed by a “stretching” session (shapes again - tall, wide, small) to give the coaches a chance to get our breath back!
With older players (up to u13) I have tried variations on the “dynamic stretch” routines as a warm-up, but emphasising the quality of the movement...this generally breaks down at the carioca, with one or more of the players (or coaches) flat on their backs...
We sometimes warm-up with “heads, shoulders, knees and...cone”, but the quality of movement isn’t great.
Speed & power don’t get separate activities, but we will work on “physicality in context” - I am a cricket coach, so we work on running with the bat, against another runner or to avoid being run out by a fielding team.
As an athletics coach, I'm currently coaching a small group of athletes, as this is the winter season and still in the under 15 age group all athletes are competing in sports hall athletics and cross country. The sports hall consist of much different Speed bounce being one of these events, jumping over a small hurdle as fast as they can in a certain amount of time, this takes skill, balance, coordination, speed, agility, power, and strength so just by practicing this one event actually targeting and developing the different movements, skills. In effect, no matter what game you play there will always be some form of strength in there eg: standing on 1 leg takes strength and balance.
With younger athletes, I have played many warm-ups games that consist of dynamic movements that also strengthen athletes whilst also using their ABCs.
Asking athletes to get into a line standing behind each other ( a big caterpillar) the first person in the line is a leader, each athlete has to think of a funny dynamic exercise, the leader is the first person to do their exercise everyone else follows the exercise whilst running around the outside of a 20 X 20 meter area, coach blows the whistle, the first athlete as fast as they can runs to the back of the line and the next person in the line is now the leader and they choose a funny dynamic exercise. The caterpillar isn't allowed to break athletes must try and stay together. give praise to the funniest dynamic exercise, those that follow behind. If you can try and allow all athletes to have a turn. You can also do this by incorporating body strength exercises, Sumo squats, squats, lunges, sideways crab walking, these are all strength exercises that children don't necessarily realize they are doing.
For my older athletes, these athletes are 14 to 22 years old. I do Intentionally incorporate body strength training days into their weekly training plan, they love this, I have noticed a massive change over the last few months. I also use sandbag training, Tabata, circuit training. With much younger athletes, I only use bodyweight exercises to strengthen them like lunges, jumping, hopping, squats, press ups, and a number of other exercises.
As a sprints and hurdles coach, the vast majority of what I do is about targeting athletic development... we might do a little race modelling work for 200 races in summer, a bit more for the 400 runners, and a fair few chats about stride patterns for 400 hurdlers... but otherwise it’s pretty much all about their athletic capabilities.
Early year there’s more emphasis on acceleration and max velocity mechanics, work capacity and general strength, then there’s more speed endurance and specific endurance as the year goes on. Coordination and mobility is addressed through warm ups and cool downs all year. Some get given extra ‘homework’ pre-hab if there is anything I’m particular concerned about.
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