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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.