Block Zero Academy

Back Extension

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This is an alternative way to do back extensions if a back extension device in unavailable.  A bench could be used also.

Counter Balance Squat

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Chin Up

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If you are training at home, here is an inexpensive piece of equipment that allows you to do chin ups.

Double Leg Bridge

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 Reverse Lunge

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Push Up

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Bent Knee Sit Up/Flat Footed

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Cash, E Sport Specialization 8/14
The Issue of Sport Specialization
Eric Cash, MS, SCCC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dorman High School
The past year of serving as a high school strength and conditioning coach has been refreshing and eye opening.  I honestly believe there is no better level in which a strength and conditioning coach can impact the physical and mental development of an athlete than the high school and middle school settings.
Sport Specialization
Sport specialization in youth and high school athletics is an issue that continues to garner attention.  Sport specialization in this case is defined as an athlete who chooses one sport and all aspects involved with that sport, while neglecting participation in other sports.  The decline of the multisport athlete and increase in overuse injuries can also be attributed to the growing trend of sport specialization.  This article will not present research findings, but rather present observations and ideas drawn from a year’s experience of working with high school and middle school athletes.  While there are numerous societal factors that fuel sport specialization (we can save those for later discussion), my goal is to present some avenues for strength coaches, parents, or sport coaches to help confront sport specialization and overuse injuries.
Confronting the Issue
First coaches, parents, and decision makers must acknowledge there is an issue with sport specialization if the problem is to be rectified.  Once an athlete begins his/her career as a varsity or collegiate athlete, the odds are that athlete has participated in some sort of year round sport play from an early age.  As a college coach, I was aware of the issue, but was never on the front lines.  This past spring, one of my strength classes consisted of mostly our volleyball team.  Below is their training and practice regimen from January through AAU nationals in June:
Jan thru April
  • M-W-F Lift during Class, T-TH Change of Direction and Acceleration Development During Class
  • Club Team Practice two to three time per week
  • Club change of direction and speed work two times per week before practice
  • Tournaments on the weekends
May
  • M-W-F Lift during Class, T-TH (Free Time/Recovery—altered change of direction due to their schedule)
  • After school Varsity Practice M-TH
  • Evening Club Team practice three time per week
  • Club change of direction and speed work two time per week before practice
  • Tournaments on the weekends
June
  • M-T-TH Lift
  • Varsity Practice M-T-TH
  • Club Practice three days per week
  • Club Tournaments
  • Club Sand Volleyball Tournaments
The above schedule illustrates the demands of the sport of volleyball, but what is not shown presents another issue—overtraining.  During the time frame presented, the multisport athletes that play softball were participating in AAU volleyball practice during softball season.
In June, the volleyball players that were practicing basketball participated in AAU volleyball. A few questions about the schedule presented:
1. Who has time for more than one sport?
2. When do athletes rest and recover?
3. How can there not be an increase in overuse injuries?
This is only a sample from my experience, but one can assume there are similar situations occurring in other high schools across the country.
Combating Sport Specialization
Communication
At the high school, college, and pro level there are numerous outside influences pulling athletes in too many directions.  Of course, one of those directions is the strength and conditioning (S/C) coach.  You, the S/C coach must remember that athletes who train in your weight room are under your care, and it is your job to do what is best for those athletes.  That may mean checking your ego at the door, and being the educated coach that can change and be open minded to benefit the athlete.
After spring break, I noticed my volleyball athletes were sluggish, which led to an enlightening conversation.  Once I discovered that our volleyball athletes were doing speed and agility work, not only with me, but with club teams; I phoned every club coach of my athletes in order to talk training and scheduling.  While I may not have received my desired response, I knew I needed to reach out and in the end make some programming changes to help my athletes.
The club teams were using their speed and agility programs as recruiting tools and would not guarantee that we could work a schedule to coordinate training days.  While I feel that my agility program could be a greater benefit to my volleyball athletes, in the interest of the athlete I decided to take out speed and agility training during school strength and conditioning classes.
Education
Through communication with athletes, parents, and coaches; educated decisions can be made about the future athletic development of athletes.  Parents want what is best for their child, whether it is a full athletic scholarship or just the athletic experience.  In today’s society there is often a disconnect between children and parents, too much texting and not enough talking, that results in a loss of information.
Parents should know all that their student athlete is doing in relation to training, practicing, and games, and the toll that this amount of activity can take.  If parents truly understand the demands being placed on their children from a year round sport, perhaps parents would let off the throttle.
When dealing with high school, club, and youth league coaches, there is a great need for a general understanding of exercise science.  At the high school level, often coaches are just thrown into sports with no prior experience.  Youth coaches coach because their children play, but usually lack foundational knowledge. The S/C coach can help bridge this gap by offering clinics and having an open door policy.  I think of the saying “it only takes one match to start a forest fire.”  If one or two coaches have a positive experience, word will spread and more coaches will want to be involved.  Now you are equipped with an army of allies that can help with the development of athletes.
S/C coaches have to be dialed in to physical and mental changes that can occur with athletes.  Educate athletes about injury trends and causes of those injuries.  The more conscientious an athlete is about their development, the more likely he/she will consider notions such as overtraining, sport specificity, rest, training protocols, and a multitude of other facets involved in their current and future athletic careers.
Block Zero 
As S/C coaches, one of our main goals is to develop the athlete.  Sport specialization places a hindrance on overall athletic development.  Athletes that continue to participate in only one sport may be increasing the likelihood of injuries resulting from overuse or repeated movements in the same patterns.  Often knee injuries are non-contact injuries.  By limiting repeated movements and allowing the athlete to experience more angles, twists, and planes of movement at an early age, injuries resulting from random foot plants or twists may be reduced.
This past spring, we integrated our Block Zero program in all three of the district middle schools; rising 7th and 8th graders.  Last summer, we utilized a scaled down version of speed and agility for youth league boy athletes.  With the help of our youth league director, this summer we have a full scale Block Zero Agility session twice a week for ALL (boys and girls) 8u, 10u, and 12u athletes in our school district.  The trick to implementation was communication.
Through our youth league director and a local physical therapist, I was introduced to a local sports performance coach in the private sector that recently moved into the area.  His goal was to recruit clients; my goal was to get my future athletes moving in all kinds of directions and encourage free play.  By opening the lines of communication I was fortunate to gain an ally in my pursuit of athletic development for our young athletes.  As far as the structure of this initiative, it consisted of:  warm up, 5 cone drill stations, free play.
Warm Up
  • Athletic Position
  • Dynamic Movements (walking toe touches, skips, shuffles)
  • Body Weight Strength Movements (Lunges, Push Ups, etc.)
Cone Drills
  • Monday—5 Drills
  • Thursday—5 Drills
Note—number one concern with cone drills—don’t teach them how to run the drill for fast times!!!!  The goal of our cone drills is to have kids change direction as many ways as possible, not to “teach the test.”
Free Play
  • Flag Football
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Tag Games
  • Etc.
To combat the decline of athletic development I utilize Block Zero in my programming.  Year round sport for young athletes has taken childhood activities like free play out of the picture.
As discussed in previous articles, Block Zero aims to introduce the athletic position and basic strength movements to help protect the athlete.  Critics may claim that adding Block Zero programming to an already hectic and demanding schedule may have as much of  a negative effect as continued sport specific activities.  I argue the opposite, and hope to further develop Block Zero programming at the youth level as well introduce Block Zero into local travel and club team athletic activities.
Conclusion
Athletics can serve as one of the greatest platforms to teach and educate athletes about hard work, team work, loyalty, character, perseverance, etc.  However, the current trend of sport specialization threatens the health of athletes. Additionally, athletes can reach the “burnout” stage where they lose complete interest in the sport they have been driven to play for so long.
Overuse injuries are on the rise at alarming rates and the lack of holistic athletic development from multi-sport participation can lead to injuries that could possibly be prevented.  Block Zero programming is just one avenue to equip athletes with the tools to help prevent injuries. Communication and education are paramount moving forward in dealing with the issue of sport specificity.
Cash, Eric 12-6-13
Importance of Athletic Position with Jumping and Landing
Eric Cash, MS, SCCC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dorman High School
In my last article, I discussed the importance of Block Zero and the athletic position as the starting point to build a solid foundation.  Mastery of the athletic position allows an athlete to understand the concepts of weight distribution/weight transference and force application/force absorption.  These concepts are the foundation to proper jumping and landing mechanics, as well the prevention of injuries.
Valgus Knee 
A topic that should be addressed early in this article is valgus knee.  Often in young athletes, untrained athletes, or female athletes, jumping and landing exposes valgus knees.  A valgus knee is when the knee caves inward toward the midline and is no longer in line with the toes.  Valgus knees are especially prevalent in female athletes due to anatomical structure—wider hips.  Some research indicates that valgus knees predispose athletes to ACL injuries.  Valgus knees can also have an impact on force production.
Jumping and Landing
In most sports, the ability to jump and change direction is important.  For an athlete to attain the most from jumping and landing, proper mechanics must be taught and reinforced.  Teaching an athlete consists of three steps:
1) Power Down
2) Push Heel to Toe (mid-foot)
3) Land Toe (mid-foot) to Heel
Power Down
When teaching an athlete to power down, they are powering down into the athletic position—hips back, chest and shoulder over knees, knees in line with toes, weight on heels, great posture, and arms back.  When powering down we are teaching an athlete to put force in the ground so the athlete can get force out of the ground.  I usually use my “old” 9th grade physical example:
If you drop two basketballs, one at standing height and the other from a roof top, which will bounce higher? Force in = Force out.  
For an athlete to acquire the most force possible out of the ground, force should travel straight downward into the ground through the heel.  Valgus knees prevent force from traveling straight downward.  By teaching the athletic position early in Block Zero and revisiting the concepts behind athletic position, we can eliminate valgus knee during the power down phase of jumping.
Push Heel to Toe
Jumping is the simple concept of weight transference from heel to toe—force application.  When transferring weight from heel to toe, we teach the athlete to “push” from heel to toe.  When pushing, we are applying force into the ground to receive more force out of the ground, in turn jumping higher.
Another point of emphasis when pushing heel to toe is to distribute weight evenly from heel to toe without a weight shift inward to the instep.  By distributing weight from heel to toe, we are tracking the knees in line with toes and preventing valgus knees.
Land Toe (mid foot) to Heel
To land a jump properly, an athlete must be able to absorb force.  In Block Zero, athletes learn to land toe to heel and land in the athletic position.  Teaching an athlete to land toe (mid foot)  to heel allows for proper force absorption.  By placing an emphasis on landing Toe to Heel, we are also keeping knees in line with toes; and over time hoping to correct valgus knee and prevent injuries.
Force absorption—cutting, landing, etc.—is one area when knee injuries can occur.  Teaching an athlete to land properly allows for even weight distribution from toe to heel keeping weight off the instep and knees in line with toes.  Again, the focus is to prevent and correct valgus knees over time by placing an emphasis on keeping weight off the instep as an athlete lands.
Pre-requisite to Strength Training
Early in Block Zero there is not only a focus on the athletic position as the foundation of jumping and landing, but also the starting point for activating the posterior chain.  In ground based sport, all athletes have the desire to be more explosive, run faster, and jump higher.  When placed in proper athletic position, an athlete activates the upper back all the way through the hamstrings.  While not all sport requires the ability to jump and land through both feet, ground based sport athletes benefit from properly developed hamstrings.  When progressing into strength training, the athletic position lays the foundation to properly develop the posterior chain.
 Progressions of Block Zero Cash,E 5/14
Progressions of Block Zero
Eric Cash, MS, SCCC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dorman High School
The Block Zero content at bighousepower.com as sparked a great deal of discussion.  One of the topics that I have received emails concerning is the progression of exercises or how to increase intensity.  Due to varying factors, there is not a cookie cutter answer for progression throughout a block zero program.
For coaches in the private sector your training group might not be as large as a group in the high school athletic setting.  Coaches in the private sector also have to consider clients pay (or parents) for services and clients want to see results.  So to retain clients and build your business, Block Zero may not last as long.  College strength coaches may feel pressure from sport coaches to “get athletes stronger.”  Nevertheless, if you are in a high school weight room, college weight room, or in the private sector and you are following Block Zero principles and implementing the Tier System, at some point you will progress your athletes out of Block Zero into Block 1.
Before we can progress out of Block Zero, let’s discuss how to set up a Block Zero program.
Program Setup
Keeping in-line with Tier System principles, one should develop an exercise pool for any Block Zero program based on goals set forth by the strength and conditioning coach.  It is important to remember that similar to the Tier System, Block Zero programs should be principle based and specific to an individual strength programs goals and direction.
Below is the first four week cycle of our 8th grade program used this spring.  The program is set up for two days per week and has specific goals:
* Introduction to athletic position
* Early emphasis on developing the posterior chain
* Functional Strength (Body Control and Awareness)
* Basic movement and jumping mechanics
* Preparation for future Tier System Training
For the beginning athlete, the focal point is functional strength and the relationship functional strength has for future athletic development.  Through repeated practice with Block Zero exercises, athletes should understand the importance of:
* Engaging core on stability exercise
* Controlled movements
* Activating certain muscle groups
* Exercises in relation to injury prevention
The training card illustrates exercises are very basic in nature.  Athletic Position is the starting point for each training session.  From the athletic position we go straight into a body weight squat.  It is important for us to perform a bodyweight squat directly after the athletic position due to the emphasis placed on the carryover of the athletic position to squat.
What’s Next?
Progressing in intensity or progressing out of Block Zero will vary from coach to coach and program to program.  Progressions in exercise across cycles should mirror philosophies and goals of the strength and conditioning program.
Increasing Intensity
Instituting tempo is an easy way to increase intensity of body weight exercises.  Tempo training, more commonly known as Time Under Tension (TUT), allows for increases in intensity while maintaining the focus of functional strength.  As well, athletes develop local muscular endurance through functional strength movements before they progress into Block 1 programs.
When applying an external load in Block Zero programming to increase intensity, take small steps and make it something the athletes can “escape” from quickly.  For total body movements, Kettlebell swings are a safe first step and continue the development of block zero concepts: pushing through the heel and maintaining posture through movement.  Goblet Squats are also a safe way to implement an external load for Block Zero athletes.  By adding the external load in front of the athlete, we are preparing them for the demands of front squat introduced in Block 1.
Intro into Tier Rotation
As a coach that utilizes the Tier System for all athletes, it only makes sense to prepare athletes for inclusion into Block 1 programs.   Here in the functional training block, we continue to implement introductory exercises, but we do so in Tier System fashion: day one is Session T and day two is Session L.
While introducing the tier rotation, the development of the novice athlete through Block Zero remains the primary focus.  And the progressions used for any Block Zero program should be designed for continual growth into future training programs.
As previously mentioned, kettlebell swings and goblet squats are two externally loaded exercises introduced in the Block Zero tier rotation.  To complete the rest of the tier rotation, we continue to add and progress through body weight exercises.  Jumps become part of the rotation in total body blocks.  Variation and TUT are key in progressing through the lower body and upper body blocks.
Intro to Front Squat
In the second cycle of our block zero program, athletes begin to learn all aspects involved in the front squat.  Front squat is the first major squat movement taught because bar placement typically allows novice squatters to perform and master front squat easier than traditional back squat.  All work done with front squat is performed with a dowel rod and there is early emphasis placed on wrist flexibility so when an external load is added athletes can perform a front squat correctly.
Remember……
All strength coaches want to develop athletes or we wouldn’t be in the business.  Just like there are different philosophies in teaching the power clean, there will be different philosophies on young athlete or freshmen development programs.  The key is to ensure that your introductory program for novices is reflective of your philosophy and goals.  Progress according to your plan and what works best for your situation.
 Block Zero

Eric Cash, MS, SCCC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dorman High School

As a young head strength coach in January 2007, I was under the impression that all athletes are ready for the demands and expectations of college strength and conditioning programs. The truth is, a large number of upperclassmen college athletes, while accepting the so called “grind,” are never ready for the initial demands and expectations from sport coaches, professors, and strength and conditioning coaches. When I began training my first crop of freshmen athletes in the summer of 2007, I quickly realized they are vastly different from upperclassmen in their maturity, training knowledge, and training experience. The way I was training my young athletes was not sound and after visiting Joe Kenn at Arizona State in the fall of ’07, the solution was Block Zero.

What is Block Zero?

As I have come to understand Block Zero, it is a systematic approach that safely develops and integrates athletes into a training program; it helps them prepare for the physical demands of sport. Block Zero takes into account an athlete’s training age and assumes that all new athletes entering a training program have a training age of zero. While an athlete may have great experience in a previous training environment, when they are new to your program, their training age is zero. Placing all incoming athletes into a Block Zero program accomplishes five things:

1) Acclimatization into your program
2) Allows for a period of assessment and evaluation
3) Provides a conducive teaching environment for proper technique instruction
4) Injury prevention through evaluation and technique instruction
5) Increased comprehension of application to sport and training

Where to Start

While there are many similarities in strength and conditioning programs across the country, most strength programs are unique and are a result of hard work and dedication from strength and conditioning staffs. Like any program, methods and philosophies adapt over time and from coach to coach but the underlying principles remain the same. Take the adage “Bigger, Faster, and Stronger,” for example. Most power and power-endurance sport coaches want their athletes bigger, faster, and stronger, so strength and conditioning coaches write programs with this ideology in mind. While one coach may use the Olympic lifts, another coach may use the power lifts, but both are training for the same purpose—Bigger, Faster, Stronger.

The same can be said with young athlete developmental programs. All strength and conditioning professionals would like to develop their athletes from year one to year four or five. In the high school realm, a strength coach can have athletes from 6th or 7th grade until they graduate as seniors Within your youth athlete development program, where do you start? How do you decide what to include in your program?

When developing programs for the young athlete, we first have to realize that incoming freshmen college athletes and young adolescent athletes are different from upperclassmen. They are generally immature, younger in training age, and have major differences in their physical development. So can we ask our young athletes to train at the same volume, intensity and tempo as our older athletes? Can we ask them to train the same exercises? The answer is no. Strength coaches have to adapt their current programming to meet the needs of young athletes; think basic.

Another realization for strength coaches to consider is the idea of sport specialization. When a college freshmen or high school freshmen athlete walks into the weight room, there is a great possibility they have only been involved with one sport for numerous years. With the arrival of AAU teams and travel ball, sport specialization is at an all time high. Young kids rarely have time to be involved in a strength and conditioning program, much less other sports or recreational free play. The multi-sport athlete and backyard football are becoming a thing of the past. For strength professionals, we have to start with the basics when they walk through the doors. In Block Zero, the starting point is the Athletic Position.

Athletic Position

When developing strength programs, many variables are placed under consideration: time of year, progressions, loads, frequency, etc. Young athlete programs should be held under the same scrutiny. We have to consider how we want our young athletes to progress to and create the road map to get there. Following Tier System principles from year one to year four or five necessitates starting with the athletic position. Mastery of the athletic position allows athletes to comprehend how it relates to weight room activities and the field of play.

An athlete that understands how to set his/her hips, maintain a tight upper back, arched lower back, and lock their chest angle in over their knees is well on his/her way to understanding proper starting position on RDL’s, hang cleans, squatting and putting into place the proper mechanics for jumping and landing. From the athletic position, athletes learn to apply force from heel to toe and absorb force from toe to heel. An athlete’s understanding of proper force application and force absorption reinforces knee tracking with the toes (correction of valgus knee) and allows for greater force production which can transfer to the field of play.

In conclusion, Block Zero accounts for lack of training experience and knowledge. By placing an emphasis on the athletic position, strength coaches are preparing athletes for the physical demands in the weight room which will bridge the gap with sport specific demands.
Big House Power Staff Note:

In upcoming material, Coach Cash will be expanding on the importance of the athletic position. He will be covering jumping and landing mechanics and the importance proper mechanics play in need injury prevention, especially females. Other athletic position topics will include mastery of the athletic position and how it leads into change of direction and how the athletic position leads to proper posterior chain development.

Block Zero Bullet Points

Kenn, J  (2009).  How to Prepare Your Athletes for Collegiate and NFL Weight Programs.  American Football Monthly. 15(9).

What suggestions would you give to high school strength coaches to prepare their athletes for collegiate strength programs?

Joe Kenn MA MSCC CSCS*D

In an era where physical fitness is at an all time low, I feel it is imperative that coaches at the high school level understand they are not getting the same type of athletes coaches worked with decades before.  With the de-emphasis of general physical education at the elementary and middle school levels we are seeing an alarming rate of youth obesity and lack of general “play”.   The roles of unorganized after school play or pickup games where the kids are active are rarely seen in most communities.  Almost all sport is played in some type of organized fashion and specialization of sport has become common place.

With that being said, I believe the following issues must be addressed to secure the overall health of the athlete throughout his sport career regardless of longevity.  These 4 Bullet Points are the foundation of our incoming athletes program – BLOCK ZERO.

 

1. Don’t Assume the Athletic Position!

We use the term athletic position as it relates to the basic fundamental “stance” in competitive sports.  In football it is easily referred to as the Linebacker stance.  Coaches beware, many of the athletes we see cannot get into this position naturally.  It must be taught even to the most gifted players.  Generally we see three positions when we train the athletic position, A – knee bender [knees pushed forward, heels off the ground, hips still in full extension], B – waist bender [bent over at the waist, chest down, knees extended], C – hip and knee bender [athlete naturally can assume a basic quarter squat position]. Obviously “C” is the goal for each athlete.

2. Mobility and Stability

As we build off the Athletic Position, our athletes go through a series of mobility drills [similar to a basic running session prep work] and stability drills [isometric and quasi isometric holds, planks] to increase dynamic flexibility as well as kinesthetic awareness, balance, coordination, and core strength.

3. Internal Resistance over External Resistance

We consistently are seeing more shoulder and low back injuries from our incoming athletes.  We feel this is because most of these athletes are being asked to perform movements with external loads with a disregard to their ability to handle internal loading or “relative/gymnastics” strength.  This is the ability to perform movements with efficient technique with their own bodyweight.  How can we expect a 300 pound high school lineman to squat 500 pounds when he cannot perform a bodyweight squat to parallel? How can we expect him to bench press 400 when he cannot perform a quality push up or dead hang chin up?  Creating a relative strength circuit to develop proper movement qualities, full range of motion, and overall strength are critical abilities in establishing future technique success.

 

4. Exercise Technique

The more efficiently an athlete can move a resistance the greater the transfer ability to athleticism.  It is extremely important to “slow cook” your athletes.  Take the time to establish your teaching progressions for your foundation lifts and cycle these movements through a carefully organized plan.  We must also teach them proper running, jumping, and landing mechanics realizing that most of these athletes have not experienced “jumping out of trees”.   We are constantly talking to our athletes about applying force into the ground but, we must also teach them how to absorb force [landing].  Ask yourself this question, how important is it really for a 9th or 10th grader to post weight room numbers in their overall development?  You will have these athletes for 4 years.

 

In closing we must remember as performance coaches that our athletes are football players first and foremost and that we are here to service them and give them the tools to become successful athletes and improve the general physical fitness and athletic attributes.  Their sport coaches in particular their position coaches will give them the specific skills required to achieve success on the playing field.

 

Hiring a Performance Coach for Your Child – Questions Every Parent Should Consider

Adolescent athletic overuse injuries are at an all time high because adolescent parents are pushing at an earlier age for their children to be the next prodigy.  Orthopedic surgeons have suggested that the increase in overuse injuries is a direct relationship to children beginning vigorous training programs at a physical demand greater than the development of the skeletal and muscular systems.

 

Most young athletes are not prepared for the vigorous training & athleticism most strength and conditioning programs demand.   Unrealistic sports goals and aspirations can lead to increased burn out at early ages.  When this happens, young athletes become disillusioned with organized sports and often incur chronic injuries.

 

As we all wish we had the next child prodigy, the truth is most of our children’s athletic careers will end at the high school level or sooner.  Parents need to take a hard look at their children’s motivation as well as their own before making critical decisions on behalf of their child’s sports career.

 

Here are five major questions each parents should ask before deciding to begin organized training with their children.

 

IS YOUR CHILD READY?

Establishing a Sufficient Base

Most children begin organized sports at an early age prior to establishing a “General Physical Fitness” base such as BLOCK ZERO.  Every parent should determine their own child’s fitness level before thrusting them into community and traveling sports teams.  When this happens, children wind up learning “specific sports skills” before “general athletic skills”.  It is important for children to learn basic sports skills because of the de-emphasis on physical education in most elementary schools.

 

What can you do?

  1. First and foremost promote free play.  Free play is critical because it is during these moments that children learn balance, agility, competitiveness, confidence, and leadership.  Free play helps establish general athletic skills that are the same most parents are paying for in private training centers across the country.

 

  1. Evaluate your child’s activity level.  If he/she is constantly outside playing with friends or even alone, then you know they enjoy general physical activities.  Free play is a good indicator as to if your child will enjoy organized sports.

 

  1. Have an open dialogue with your child.  If she is begging to play soccer, she probably wants to play and will enjoy it.  Ask your child if they want to participate in sports and certainly encourage outside activities over indoor television, computer or video gaming.

 

What Age to Start?

Assuming your family doctor has cleared your child to participate in sports activities, you can consider these suggestions for a basic starting age.

* I recommend a minimum age of twelve years old depending on the maturity level of your child.  I have two sons who both train with me.  My oldest son started organized training when he was thirteen years old and my youngest son when he was twelve and a half.  Since girls mature earlier than boys they may be able to start slightly earlier

* Some sports, such as gymnastics and martial arts require and teach a tremendous amount of flexibility, agility, and ability to handle bodyweight.  Therefore, I highly recommend an orthopedic and family practice doctor’s opinion when making this decision.

 

How to Begin?

At Big House Power we recommend our BLOCK ZERO Level 1 program.  It factors in 3 of the major physical fitness abilities; mobility, stabilization, and relative strength that are tremendous building block for the more advanced training that lies ahead.

Will You Join Them?

Whether you are a competitive athlete or a weekend warrior you can begin an in-home training program with your child.  Most of the drills recommended in the Big House Power BLOCK ZERO Level 1 Program can be done with minimal equipment at your house.   Starting an in-home training program is a great way to build a relationship with your child.  Ensure you foster a training atmosphere of encouragement and positivity and your child’s confidence and abilities will grow.

How Long Should a Session be in Duration?

This may depend on the intrinsic motivation level of your child.  I started training my twelve year old, 2 sessions per week, each session 30 minutes in duration.  Due to his high motivation level, I increased his training to 3-40 minute sessions per week.  As motivated children begin to see improvement they will ask for more training on their own.  Allow your child to dictate his/her training frequency.  This will create a sense of ownership to the training program as well as an increase in motivation and self-confidence levels.  When a child comes to you and says, “let’s train” you know that the program has had a positive influence on not just the physical but the mental development also.

For an example, my twelve year old has taken it upon himself to do extra training on his own.  He has incorporated his own sense of fun by performing a pushup on each stair as he ascends to go to his room each night.  This has the added benefit/s of improving upper body strength and in a small way promoting free play.  He tells me sometimes he does every step sometimes every other step.  He is making the rules of the game, which gives him ownership in his physical development.  Most importantly he doesn’t see it as work!

I believe that the 12-14-age bracket should train no more than 3 sessions a week, with a maximum of 60 minutes per training session.  A typical training session lasts between 20- 60 minutes.  After 60 minutes depending on the conditioning level of an athlete fatigue generally sets in and most work from here is a marginal effort at best.   Implementing a basic Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule allows ample time between workouts.   48-72 hours between training sessions is adequate rest for the body to recover between sessions.  Also, it gives them more time to FREE PLAY.

If your child wants more – PROMOTE FREE PLAY!!!!

Hiring a Sports Trainer and Evaluating the Training Program?

How do you know it’s time?  If you have started a Block Zero Level 1 program at home and your child has advanced to a point where he/she needs professional attention or he/she may have natural gifts that mean the slow cooking process can be slightly speeded up, then I recommend doing a thorough research analysis on training centers in your area and the individuals who operate and coach there.

You are now at the point that you feel it is necessary to join a facility.  It is your parental right to ask questions when choosing a training facility and a training program.  Even though your child is chomping at the bit a pre teen or early teenage has no clue what to ask.  Ask the coach if you can watch and evaluate the training session.  If the answer is NO, look for a different coach.

I believe in the slow cooking process.  Take things very slow and build upon each drill in to complex action.  I also believe in learning how to control and be aware of your own body’s, movement.  If you see the group performing loaded exercises [lifting weights] or doing what you may term as fancy drills I would question that.  You cannot ask a young athlete to perform loaded movements without them being prepared by being able to do the same movement pattern without a load [their own bodyweight].

Hopefully, this gives you a enough to think about when the time comes for you to take the next or maybe the first step in your child’s athletic career.

Questions, comments, start a discussion –  head to the parent’s or open forum.

WORDS WIN,

Coach Kenn

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