Parents, would you rather have a good soccer (football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse) player or have a good athlete?
I asked this to one of the parents that comes to the gym and his answer was “I want my daughter to be a better soccer player.” I thought that was a great answer.
How do most parents go about helping their son or daughter become a better player in their sport(s)? Most of them have the kids specialize in a sport and play that sport year-round. These kids are in fall ball, winter ball, spring ball, summer ball and attend sport-specific clinics. Some kids are playing two sports simultaneously year-round.
Unfortunately, this approach leads to burnout and higher injury rates.
Is there a better approach?
Helping your child develop better overall athleticism outside of his or her sport will lead to improved sports performance, and will reduce burnout and injury. Your child will get stronger, develop better neuromuscular control, have fun and see variety in the training. As a result, athleticism will improve and your child will do better in their sport.
In our gym, we work to develop athletic skills in kids (and adults) in 10 fitness domains: Balance, Coordination, Accuracy, Agility, Strength, Stamina, Cardiovascular Endurance, Flexibility, Power and Speed.
Early in our youth athletic training program last summer, I brought the kids to a sign in our gym with these fitness domains and talked with them about their sports and how each of these was important. Here are some of the ways the kids thought each of these attributes would benefit a soccer player:
- Balance: balance (and stability) is needed to stand on one leg while kicking.
- Coordination: ability to kick the ball, hit the ball with the head
- Accuracy: an accurate pass or kick on goal
- Agility: better ball control moves
- Strength: the ability to kick further
- Stamina: less muscle fatigue would improve performance later in games
- Cardio: there’s a lot of running in soccer and the players need strong cardio to keep going
- Flexibility: kicking requires flexibility through the hips
- Power: the ability to generate force rapidly will result in harder, longer kicks
- Speed: beating your opponent to the ball
In our youth training programs, some of the ways we work these areas include sprinting, medicine ball throws, box jumps, landing drills, resistance training, and conditioning workouts.
In my next article, I’ll talk more about the most important aspect of a youth training program.