Just a quick (or maybe not so quick) blog that is all about the Developing Athletes Program.
This blog has been triggered by a few conversations I have had with parents about the program…and more particularly the COST of the program (it is $90/month) particularly given that “Little Johnny is so busy he could only come twice per week”. OK. So it is March and in the month of March there are 5x weeks…which would mean that twice per week would mean you could attend 10x sessions in March…which would work out to $9/session…which sounds fair enough to me. So, if we accept that the program is good value for just a second, I want to talk about why a program focussed on athletic development is so IMPORTANT to your kids.
If you have kids playing sport or more likely, a couple of sports (for example, in my house it is football and basketball):
|– Basketball practice/training
– Basketball game (possibly x2).
– Football practice/training (almost certainly x2).
– Football game.
On top of that there is school, homework (lol), socialising (kids being kids, going to the skate park etc)…so where in there is room to get to the gym? Well, I guess it comes down to what is important versus what is MOST important.
I will focus on the footy side of things here because I have coached in the AFL talent pathway in either WA or Victoria since 2003 and it is where my expertise is but I think these points apply EQUALLY to other ‘field’ sports.
Firstly, whether your kids are playing football, hockey, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, netball or water polo (to mention a few), well, the ‘tactics’ and game-play are much the same. These are all invasion sports/games where the idea is one team needs to get past the defensive structures of the other and put the ball in the goal/hoop. The concepts of moving in space, identifying the open player etc remain the same. Yes, the specific skills are different but ‘seeing’ the free player and identifying the ‘dangerous’ space is universal. So…if you are playing a game of basketball, well, that is actually ALSO footy training. It’s also hockey training. And water polo training. I’m sure you get it. Playing ‘small sided games’ are fantastic preparation for playing other ‘invasion’ games and for that reason you will always hear football commentators ‘banging on’ about how player ‘x’ was a talented basketball player as a junior…well, duh…of course he was!!! And those other 41 blokes running around in the same game? I’m betting most of them were more than handy as well!
Back to the kids weekly commitments of sport training and games, you know what they don’t get at a traditional team training session? They don’t get faster. You know what else they don’t get? They don’t get stronger (and please, spare me the stories of the half-arsed pushups some coaches dish out as punishments…that isn’t strength training). And you know what else you don’t learn at ‘club’ training? The resilience of pushing through a really HARD session where you are completely out of your comfort zone…team training sessions for junior sports is simply not set up for those things – those sessions are all about having a bit of fun and making sure that the players are doing fundamental skill work associated with that one sport…practicing kicking is great for football, but has zero flow-on to other sports and zero impact on the physical development of the athlete…this doesn’t mean you don’t need to do it (please, if your kids play footy get them to practice their kicking a LOT) but just that it doesn’t help them do more than kick the ball well in the event that they happen to get the ball in a game! (Of which there is no guarantee of course!)
Now as much as the idea of spending time in the gym with barbells being ‘thrown about’ and kettlebells swinging and all of that stuff ON TOP of sporting commitments, it is 100% the best thing the kids can do for their maturing, still developing bodies. When I get somewhat frustrated is the ‘We want to come to the gym but we are so busy with all of these other sporting commitments’…I mean, I know. Me too. But how are the kids going to handle the work associated with doing all of these sporting activities – not to mention what they are actually doing whilst they are AT SCHOOL – without being strong? How are they going to avoid injuries? How are they going to go into a physical contest and come out unscathed if they are not strength training (hell, how are they going to have the CONFIDENCE to go into a physical contest if they are not strength training). How are they staying ‘ahead of the curve’ with their speed and strength when compared to their peers? And how are they going to beat their opponent to the ball? Be strong enough in the contest to pick it up without going to ground? Be able to burst away from pressure? Have a strong enough core to execute complex skills under physical duress??
You wonder why a players skill level drops away as the game goes on? It isn’t because they aren’t ‘fit’ enough…most kids do more than enough running at their team training to get through 4x 15 minute quarters with breaks for 1/4 time, half-time and 3/4 time. More likely it is because they aren’t strong enough to hold posture and position under fatigue which means their ability to keep their feet under pressure and successfully execute what are ‘complex’ motor skills (throwing, catching, kicking, hitting a ball etc) are compromised.
They DON’T need to be at the gym ‘every day’. We run the sessions ‘every day’ because we know different kids have different activities on different days. So some can come Monday, others Tuesday, others Wednesday etc etc. Most kids only need to be in the gym for a couple of sessions each week to really benefit – if they can throw in a third session every couple of months when they have a ‘bye round’ on their fixture, well, that’s great. But just because we run 5x Developing Athlete sessions every week doesn’t mean we are expecting you to come 5x per week. 2-3x per week is really all the kids need…
How am I managing this with my kids? Well, Dempsey is 13 and is down to 2x DAP sessions per week (Monday and Wednesday) amongst basketball and footy commitments. In order to facilitate this, he is currently MISSING one of his team footy sessions each week in favour of getting to the gym. Hell – it’s the pre-season and I have made a commitment to do an extra skills session with him every week to make up for what he is missing at his club training. When the season starts, we are going to have some challenges getting the two sessions in…but we ARE going to figure it out because (to me at least) it is important. I know on top of all his ‘out of school’ sport he will be playing basketball at lunchtime every day PLUS phys ed….he needs to be strong and resilient to get through all of it.
If you want to give your kids every advantage, it is important that they ‘TRAIN’ as well as go to their team training. Being stronger and faster are good things in WHICHEVER sport they are playing – and those are physical abilities that are developed in the gym, not on the playing fields.
That’s it. See you in the gym,
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