Archive for “Youth Coaches” Tag

What Is The Best Youth Speed Training Drill

 

Youth Speed Training

By CJ Easter
 

One of the #1 questions that I get from coaches is “What is your favorite youth speed training drill?”
 

And I always give the answer that everyone hates, “It depends.”
 

But this is not a cop out because it really does depend. Speed is a total body, coordinated skill. So the “best drill” depends on what exact skill that we are trying to develop and the skill level of our athletes to properly perform that drill.
 

“That drill looks cool” should not be the deciding factor when putting together your training session. The deciding factor should be what is the simplest, most time-efficient drill to work on the desired concept.
 

One of my favorite coaching quotes is “Coach the kids, not the drills.”
 

Does it matter what the drill is if all the kids are doing it wrong and not developing the desired skill…
 

OR if we cannot demonstrate or coach this drill properly, so we have 50 kids moving “just like coach showed me” (which isn’t always pretty)?
 

When I first started coaching, I made those exact mistakes. I tried to take all the drills that I learned at Stanford and use them on my younger athletes. The classic “this is what I did, so you should do it too” coach.
 

My athletes not only weren’t developing the movement patterns that I wanted, but they were also losing confidence because they didn’t look and feel coordinated.
 

That’s when I made a huge realization…
 

College and professional coaches are probably the worst sources for youth and high school coaches to get drills from because they work with superior athletes.
 

Athletes don’t make it to that level without a certain level of coordination, so at the highest levels, the job description is mostly “don’t screw the guy up”. Our job as high school and youth coaches is to completely develop or restructure a coordination. I am not assigning value to either job, but they are definitely much different tasks.
 

So the “best youth speed training drill” is the drill that is done correctly to develop the skill that you want to address.

 

Here is a general template on exactly how I coach concepts and skills regardless of the youth speed training drill:

 

1. Introduce the skill/concept and the drill:
“This drill is called X. We are doing this to improve concept/skill X.”
 

This helps build a mental bridge for your athletes. They might not always like the drill, but at least they know and understand how it’s going to make them a better player.
 

2. Demonstrate the drill and explain key coaching points as you are demonstrating.
 

In the social media era, the majority of our kids are visual learners, so proper demonstration is necessary. Explaining the coaching points as you go also addresses auditory learners.
 

3. Demonstrate what you DON’T want to see and address common errors.
 

This aligns with John Wooden’s coaching style of “Do this, not this, do this.”
 

4. Demonstrate it correctly one more time, reinforcing the correct movement pattern.
 

5. Have your kids do a walk-through rep or if it’s an extended drill, do a mental walk-through. This addresses kinesthetic learners.
 

This process will take more time than just setting up the cones and saying “do this drill”, but you will definitely see improvement in the quality of your youth speed training drills and the development of the desired skills.
 

 

A Lesson on Youth Sports Injuries

Youth Sports Injuries Can Be Avoided

Jim Ochse is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa. He serves as athletic trainer for the women’s Volleyball, men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s tennis, and baseball.

During the summer, Jim presents SAQ camps for athletes from 10-18 years of age in northeastern PA.

IYCA: What’s your background in youth sports and athletics? Have you worked with young athletes?

JO: I started out as a Health and Physical Education teacher for K- 6 for several years, but was disenchanted in how physical fitness was instituted in the educational system. I then became certified as an athletic trainer and have covered all aspects of youth sports for the past 22 years. I serve as a volunteer coach for soccer, basketball, and baseball for my local youth association. During the regular school year from September to May, my main responsibility is to the college athletes at DeSales University in Pennsylvania ; however, I do talks and clinics whenever possible to youth, and have a few personal training clients that I collaborate with. During the summer months I direct a number of Speed, Agility, and Quickness camps in my local area for youth from ages 10-18. I also do one day seminars on running, and other topics such as how to incorporate stability ball training to their strength programs.

IYCA: There are a lot of coaches, parents, and even trainers who treat young athletes as if they were "little adults." What I mean by that is they will take the training routine of a superstar athlete and use it as a guide when working with youngsters. Why, if at all, should we warn them against that kind of training?

JO: I see this mentality used by both parents and youth coaches, and obviously, this type of mentality is not appropriate for developing athletes. A training routine for youth should be individualized for that particular athlete. A young athlete is not mature enough physically, psychologically, or emotionally to even perform the same type of training as an adult. They do not have the base of aerobic/anaerobic conditioning that a more mature athlete has acquired, nor should they attempt a strength program that is meant or written for an adult. With their growth plate still immature, performing strength exercises for mature athletes may predispose them to unnecessary injuries. Weight training does have its place among young athletes; however, emphasis should be place on light weights, proper form and techniques, an implemented by a well qualified coach or personal trainer.

IYCA: The age old debate is "How old should an athlete be before beginning to lift weights." What’s your view on that controversial topic?

JO: I go along with the NSCA position on weight lifting. I believe that children can even be taught Olympic type weight lifting techniques, but not use extremely heavy weights. In fact, most of my teaching at this level is with either a broomstick or at most a light barbell. I even have my 8-year daughter lifting light dumbbells, and even perform modified pushups on a Swiss Ball, and performing abs curls. Physiologically youth athletes physiologically are not capable of withstanding great weights, due to their anatomical structure and rate of maturity. I use a lot of body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, and step ups. I use upper body exercises such as push-ups, chin-ups, and resistance bands, in place of weights. I want to make sure that the young athletes have the proper techniques down. When they are older, they can worry about increasing their resistance training.

IYCA: Using your ideals, could you define "functional conditioning" for us?

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