About eight years ago, one of my high school high jumpers, Danielle, came running down to me at a track meet to tell me the news. As the coach of the long, triple and high jumps I was making the rounds at a meet trying to miss as few competitive attempts as possible, in a facility that spread the jump areas out. Needless to say, I missed her high jumps attempts. She was about to fill me in.
Between spurts of laughter, Danielle, whose athleticism is best described as “she is a really nice girl”, managed to tell me that during her approach she fell, crashed into the standard, caused a ruckus but rather enjoyed the experience. She then bounded off. Momentarily, I was relieved to have missed it. Days later I scrounged up the video to see what I expected. Poor foot placement in the latter steps of the approach and some other factors caused the wipeout.
Her problem was caused by the same part of athleticism that also led to many of the great performances that day: the” foot strike.” “Foot strike,” refers to the foot contacting the ground while running. That instant is vital to the success or failure of nearly every sporting endeavor, yet it is rarely emphasized, coached, taught or even discussed. It definitely should be. Since then, the other co-head coach of the track team and I have focused many hours upon this very topic. Here are some things to think about:
My youth fitness question to you last Friday certainly created a stir.
The IYCA Blog was literally LIT UP by passionate professionals worldwide,
all of whom chimed in with there thoughts to my query –
"What is the biggest problem in youth fitness and sport training?"
The responses were intelligent, articulate and clearly came from people who
have incredible fervor for this topic.
One of my favorite posts came from a good friend of mine.
Someone whose knowledge on the subject is truly amazing. I have enjoyed
learning from her since our first correspondence back in 2005.
Leigh Ashton is the former Director for the Long-Term Athlete Development
Program at the Millennium Institute in New Zealand and has recently opened
that country’s very first youth training center with her husband, Gareth, a man
whose intellect and passion for doing things "right" rivals Leigh’s.
Here’s what she had to say –
"This is a great thread and shows that:
A) there are many common issues worldwide with youth sports and fitness training
B) Brian and the IYCA are doing a fantastic job at calling these issues to our
I think the next issue for all of us commenting here is what we are going to do
about it? My husband and I have been friends of Brian’s since 2005 and have
just opened New Zealand’s first youth-only fitness centre.
The issue we feel strongly about (in addition to those outlined above) is for
those of us who have this knowledge to go beyond just talking about the issues
and have the courage to take action!!"
That last paragraph is as succinct and perfectly worded a message as I could
have hoped for when I asked my question last week.