That sure is a mouthful for a title. Maybe the meaning is quite self evident or maybe it is a little more veiled. Either way I think that these elements are essential to making your AR successful and helping you to develop great athletes.
What do I mean by “non-programming” elements?
Sets, reps, exercises, and their order are all the things that you put on paper when you are putting together their training program., those are the traditional “programming elements”. There are things that don’t end up on paper that can make your program successful though.
Those things that don’t end up on the whiteboard or workout card are just as important to the quality of your program as what’s written down. They create the environment in which your athletes train.
This is first. It really should always be first. Great coaching can change the way athletes think, can improve technique, and can inspire. Each day in your AR you should seek to instruct, teach, and inspire each athlete. In fact in my training sessions I aim to do these 3 separate things with each individual I encounter. Your interactions with your champions will be deeper and more meaningful if you approach each athlete with these 3 things in mind.
The way that we communicate with our champions is very important. Maximum uptake of information is dependent upon how we choose to transmit ideas to our athletes. I like to communicate training technique in a “do this, don’t do that, do this” way (first popularized by the AMAZING John Wooden). In essence I tell each athlete how we should do a movement or piece of a movement, then give them 1 way to not do that movement, and then repeat using different cues how to do this movement. For instance in the hang clean if I am verbally communicating technique I might say “Get full extension in your hips. We don’t want to leave your hips behind the bar. It might feel like you are going onto your tippy toes” I communicated the same point to the athlete in 2 different ways and let them know what the improper way to do things might look like.
We hear about fun all the time, but what does it look like? In my AR it is often impromptu competition between athletes or between athletes and coaches. A quick game of wall ball, with rules made up on the spot, as we wait to warm-up. A race with a sled, or relay will do the trick as well. Impromptu feels better than planned, and we try to do something like this everyday. Fun makes communication easier and coaching easier and is the underlying note to creating a great environment for your youth fitness program.
I cannot remember who said it to me but I was once told “A horrible program implemented well, will always out perform a great program implemented poorly. ” The non-programming elements are what makes this true, those things which create the environment. If poor programs in a great environment can do well, imagine what a great youth fitness program (your AR program) can do in a great environment (your AR).
My young athletes are known for explosive power, from middle school volleyball players to football players preparing for the combine all of them out class the competition when it comes to quick bursts of power. Recently I put together a presentation outlining my favorite exercises to do just that. I have shared a brief outline of the topics covered in that seminar in the list below.
1. Hang Clean and Snatch-
You will notice that I did not say the Power Clean or Power Snatch. Power cleans are the staple of most training programs, but the key is by doing this movement from the hang position i.e. with the bar just above your knees. This position is much closer to ones athletes actually use in athetics and athletes have a much greater potential for technically sound lifts.
The snatch must be included because it is such a powerful movement as well and can lend diversity to the program.
2. CHAOS agility drills
Much of the need for power in football comes in the reaction to a movement of the ball or of the defensive player, because of this football players must also have the mental awareness to make explosive movements as a reaction. Credit Coach Robert Dos Remedios for this one, but my favorite training tool for this are CHAOS agility drills (it stands for Conscious to unconscious Have unpredictability Active to Reactive Open drills Slow to Fast). The idea behind it is to have athletes mirror one another in specific patterns first and then to open ended drills with many different movement patterns, more closely replicating the actions of actual game play.
3. Kettlebell Swings
This is a foundation movement for any athlete looking to develop more power. The action in the kettlebell swing is founded on the idea of a hip hinge, this is important because most athletes need to gain better control of the ability to hinge at the hips. Most athletes are very much Quad dominant and are losing out on the potential of their backside. The Kettlebell Swing does a great job of teaching these motions effectively.
4. MB Throws
Using medicine balls in throwing motions (chest pass, Side throws, Throws for distance) is a great way to develop power in the upperbody for young athletes while incorporating the important parts of hang cleans, hang snatches, and Kettlebell swings (hip hinging). Delivering a Medicine ball with force is a great way to engage the core in explosive activities as well, generating force with the lower body must require active core control to deliver the ball with the arms, This transfer of power is important to all sports.
Athletes need to be adept at accelerating and decelerating their own body at maximum speeds. Plyometrics are the first way that athletes can learn to do so. Maximal jumps with a stuck landing will help athletes develop resistance to injury and will simulate many movements in sport.
There is a lot more than just power that goes into becoming athlete. It takes general strength, resistance to injury, proper conditioning and a well prepared mind.
Focusing on power will take athletes a long way towards getting to where they want to be.
With youth obesity and sport performance training getting so much in the way of media attention these days, it stands to reason that the best and most efficient means by which to gain local interest in your youth fitness program is through large scale exposure via newspapers, television and radio.
Media exposure is widely considered the most effective method of marketing your business for three very distinct reasons –
1. No Cost, High Value
Unlike other marketing avenues, media exposure is 100% free. There are no advertisement costs to pay and no material or reproduction fees to factor in. Appearing in the pages of your local newspaper or neighborhood magazines, as a guest on your regional news or being interviewed by a community radio show carries your best possible scenario in terms of marketing to your demographic – zero cost but maximum visibility. You will literally be ‘seen’ by anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of people depending on the population of your respective geographic area.
This article is Part I of a series by Dr. Kwame M Brown. There will be more to come, including details about programming and resources for our members.
I spend all day around preschoolers and parents. We have a great preschool here at Lee District RECenter in Franconia, VA and the teachers here are all about play! I don’t regularly work formally with the preschool children, but interact with them and play little games with them throughout the day as they bang on my window, or I see them in the hall, or play hopscotch with them on the sidewalk outside. Our teachers are wonderful all by themselves and don’t really need me that much.
I am often asked how to do fitness programs for kids at this age. The answer I often give is that the programming is easy: Combine outdoor play (mostly) lots of pretend play and obstacle courses. For older toddlers, you can begin adding simple tag games, crawling or hopping relays, and very simple throw, catch and kick games. There are tons of great activities available on the web for this age group.
The hard part: the teaching!
With this group you have to be in equal parts:
Engaged / Energetic
Authoritative (for safety only)
Running a fitness program for older children and teens is as much or slightly more about the personnel as the program. Running youth fitness programs for the preschool age is overwhelmingly about the personnel more than the program.
If you consider yourself a fitness professional, or a highly qualified coach, you may not be successful in running preschool program. If you, on the other hand, consider yourself a play partner, you can be incredibly successful. Kids will ask when they will see you again. My assistant and I have kids who run and jump into our arms when we see them! They know that we are having fun being with them. They know that we’re not there to get performance out of them, but to enjoy their play experiences alongside them.
Learn to Train Kids from 6 – 18 (Athletes & Non-Athletes Alike)…
May 31, 2010: Michael Labuanan has recently become the IYCA’s most decorated professional in the world.
The Hawaiian native was the first IYCA Professional to earn the organizations ‘Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 3’ distinction.
The ‘Level 3’ distinction has allowed Labuanan to claim the title as the most credentialed Member of the IYCA International Family of Youth Fitness Specialists.
“I love everything about the IYCA and what it stands for” said Labuanan. “I am ecstatic to be the first certified ‘Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 3’ and the highest ranking IYCA certified trainer in the world right now. The support of the Members and staff in this organization is by far the best”.
“I don’t think we could be more proud of Michael and his efforts” said Brian Grasso, Founder and CEO of the IYCA. “He is a model for other IYCA Family Members worldwide”.
To date, only two other Youth Fitness Specialists have earned the ‘Level 3’ credentials through the IYCA.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the IYCA family. Since joining the IYCA in 2008 and becoming a certified YFS two years ago, my youth fitness program has flourished with the education I have received and continue to receive about youth fitness”, said Labuanan.
“This has definitely been a life changer and I cannot express the gratitude I have for my IYCA Family”.
I had the pleasure today of observing an hour of a kids fitness’ program that, with a little work, could develop into a great program.
The Kids Fitness Program
There were about 8 kids, aged about 6 – 11. The program was written on a board ahead of time, and the instructors discussed it and made changes ahead of time. They started out with some of the standard fare warm ups (jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks). The kids then moved to an “animal” based relay around cones. They moved like bears, crabs, bunnies, and frogs. From here, there was a 10 minute section of skill development, with instruction on bodyweight squats and shoulder presses (using light plastic sticks). This was followed by a game called Cross Fit baseball, which amounted to themed stations: burpees, box jumps, squats, shoulder presses (the two instructed exercises). The kids went through several rounds of reps according to age (to make it fun). Then there was a game called Four Corners where one child was blindfolded, picked a number, and pointed to a corner. In each corner there were stations denoting a particular exercise, and the kids basically did a musical chairs type thing to get to random stations. They stopped when the one who was choosing pointed to a corner. The exercise was performed for the number of reps chosen, and it would start over.
Personal Trainer = Someone who works with a client to plan or implement an
exercise or fitness program.
Coach = Someone who gives instruction, advice or direction.
As defined by Webster’s Dictionary.
Much has been discussed about my use of the term ‘Coach’ in favor or the word
‘Trainer’ when describing myself as well as IYCA certified professionals.
And I have been asked many times why I have such a strong inclination towards
the one versus the other.
Re-read the definitions above and you should be able to figure it out for yourself.
The Art of Coaching information I provide in the Level 1 YouthFitness Specialist
course is both a great source of pride for us here at the IYCA, but also serves as a
strong differentiating factor in terms of our organization versus other educational
bodies in this industry.
Programming, training, exercise selection…
These are the sciences of our work.
Communication, coaching and instruction…
These are the arts within Youth Fitness.
Understanding how to reach each and every one of your young clients in a manner
that they will hear and respond to is perhaps the single greatest challenge facing
Youth Fitness Specialists.
We must be chameleon. We must accept the fact that understanding the specifics
associated with learning and communication are every bit as important, maybe
more so, than creating and implementing effective and developmentally-sound