Help! I Volunteered to Coach and Am Clueless!

Tell me if this is you or has been you:  “Mom or Dad, be my (fill in the sport) coach this year, please!”  You have no clue about much in that sport much less any kind of true fitness knowledge, yet now you’re in charge of 10-15 kids and they expect you to know and show them all how to be professionals.  So you ask another parent to volunteer and be your trusted assistant, maybe they have some kind of sports and/or fitness knowledge.  Somewhere in your mind you remember your football or PE teacher who coached football, and make the kids do the same warmups you did in high school.  The recreation district gave you a book to read and use to teach the sport and some drills, but who has time for that?  Each practice you hope nobody gets hurt, no parents yell at you, your kid still talks to you, and you go undefeated by some miracle.

Unfortunately this scenario plays out all over the country, in every sport, every season of every year.  What is being done to educate volunteer parents on fitness and age appropriate exercises so kids keep coming back past the age of 13?  The answer is not much to nothing at all.  The majority of kids do not start at a travel team level and do not advance to that level.  Most kids just want to have fun with some friends and winning comes later.  With all of the issues dealing with government, recreation district leaders do not invest in providing volunteer coaches with the proper tools to teach kids how to be overall better athletes and develop a love for all sports.

As we all know, the more educated you are in a subject the greater the appreciation you have for it.  It is about time recreation districts provide a way for volunteer coaches to be better and have more confidence in leading their teams.  With the technology of devices today, a systematic approach to age appropriate fitness can be provided along with the old handouts on a specific sport.  That is what my company, Movement Academy, is working on with a sports complex in Hammond, LA.  No infrastructure needs to be invested, and all coaches in all sports benefit.  Kids are smarter because their brains are stimulated properly, they will stick to sports longer, less injuries occur, and more revenue is generated as a result of all the above.

Recreational sports are the backbones of communities.  Kids from different schools meet each other and develop friendships, parents develop new friendships, and lifelong memories are made.  It is truly about having fun, learning socialization skills, and having new experiences by playing a variety of sports.  Suggest to your rec district leaders to invest in providing volunteer coaches better tools.  Everyone wins in the end.  For a free report on how fundamental movements improve cognitive ability and reduce injury, call 985-276-9394.  Leave your name and email address and the report will be sent to you FREE.  You have no obligation to purchase anything.

Everything starts on the grassroots level.  Let’s get this movement going today!

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FUNdamentals For Physical Development

You see a 7 year old child in his or her’s second year of playing soccer and that child is one of the best players on the field for either team.  Parents, coaches, and even referees comment about that child is scholarship material and SHOULD now play only soccer.  The academy/select level coach hears about this child and tells the parents to get a private coach and sign up for their team, giving up the other sports & activities.  Does this sound familiar?

In teaching physical literacy, children 6-9 years old are still learning how to move their bodies in space.  Developing overall agility, balance, coordination, and speed is the main idea for an overall better moving child.  Playing structured and unstructured games using their entire body in different environments (water, ground, and air) gives them the skills necessary to be healthier and active, not just the glimmer of the 2% club getting a D1 scholarship.  Learning how to make decisions with and without a ball, in space with other kids around, and what is proper behavior in a variety of games are all vital skills needed at this age to be a better athlete if the child chooses as a teenager and beyond.

Early sports specialization does not promote a superstar athlete.  Many factors come into play that changes a child’s desire, skill, and motivation to continue playing a specific sport.  Tell that advanced level coach NO!  It is way too early for your child to choose one and only one sport spending thousands of dollars to play.  No evidence says entering a select level team at the age of seven means a professional contract is waiting for them in high school.  Enroll them in a variety of sports/activities so they can find an interest to pursue as they approach adolescents and then develop sports specific skills.  The fact of playing multiple sports reduces fatigue, dropout, and overuse injuries seen way to often at the prepubescent stage.

It’s called FUNdamentals because FUN is a huge part of physical activity.  When a child is not having fun, they have poor attitudes, performance, and behavior issues.  Yes, they will naturally gravitate to an activity or sport they like more, but until they try a variety, they may find something else they like better.  Don’t beat up your kid, physically and mentally, at this age for competition.  They know the score and will typically forget it a few hours or days after the game anyway.  Encourage, smile, and laugh with them to help foster a love for physical activity that can lead them to a healthier, active life when YOU, and they realize being a professional athlete is not in their future.

For more info on physical literacy, check out ShapeAmerica and their guidelines for PE and overall active habits.  For a great long term athletic development and physical literacy program, Movement Academy is a web based program for your school and sports organization.  Contact Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com for any questions or comments.

 

 

Too Specialized too Soon

Spending thousands of dollars on a single sport for a child only to see that child get burned out in 3 years, is that a quality time and financial investment?  Unfortunately a large percentage of parents all around the United States have bought in hook, line, and sinker into this horrendous brainwashing.  The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine has seen the surgical curve for overuse injuries drop from 18-20 year olds, to 12-14 year olds.  Why is this happening?  Because kids are being wrongfully told they have to compete in one sport only from the age of 6-8 and up.

When we are talking about long term athletic development, sports specialization does not occur until after puberty.  Children are still learning fundamental movement skills to achieve basic strength, balance, and stability.  Not to mention their mental capacity to focus on more intense competition is also still being developed.  Youth sports has become a big business and has lost its focus on creating a well rounded, athletic child.  The importance to win now and forfeit learning has become ingrained way to early in a child’s life.

What can parents do to reduce this one sport win now pressure?  Sign your child up for multiple sports while they are young and let them decide what they enjoy.  All of the top professional athletes played a variety of sports growing up.  It was not until they reached junior high or high school they began to specialize more, and even then they starred in multiple sports.  Do not let the pressure of coaches who want to line their pockets be the deciding influence on your 9 year old.  Registering them for exercise classes at your gym/health club is another great way to show them alternative healthy activities for those not interested in specific sports.  Learn To Move Academy is developing a system for individuals to purchase so children learn these fundamental movements at home.  Finally make sure they have fun.  Learning winning and losing is important and not everyone is a champion for the season, but having fun in the process is vital to returning for more seasons.

 

Matt Peale is an NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and works with youth both as a trainer and partner in Learn To Move Academy.  Email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions and comments.