Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3 Part Series: Part 1 Agility for 5-8 Year Olds

My last post I talked about how agility and change of direction have two distinctive meanings. Agility is moving your body in reaction to a sport related stimulus, while change of direction speed is just what it says. How fast can you change direction. Now change of direction speed (CODS) is very important, but many of the best athletes do not necessarily have the best CODS. Rather they combine a good CODS with a great ability to react effectively towards a sport related stimulus. In essence I'm more focused on developing agility than CODS, as it will have a high carry over to performance.
Now how can we create situations to improve our athletes agility. This week I will talk about games for kids ages 5-8 to develop agility.

Looking at kids these age we want to improve their fundamental movement skills (FMS). Running, skipping, throwing, jumping, catching, striking, kicking, dodging, etc.

Game #1: Any Variation of Tag
Toilet tag, monkey tag, freeze tag, partner tag, blob tag, tunnel tag, flag tag or just regular old tag. Everywhere in the world kids learn tag as one of their first games. They run, skip, dodge, and most importantly they have fun.
here's some good ole toilet tag...

Notice the parents instruction. "We just have to make sure we change who's it."

Game #2: Sharks and Minnows!
Another version of tag but kids must make it across the field within a boundary. Personally, this is still my favorite game as I got to jump in it with a middle school class and probably had more fun and was breathing harder than any workout I've done in a while. I couldn't believe the amount of agility was involved especially when more kids became sharks. I would suggest this for any group of kids.

Game #3 Dodgeball or Medic
This age might be the best time to teach dodgeball/medic. Kids really can't throw hard enough to actually hurt each other (use soft balls), they aren't at the age where they pick out a kid to humiliate them, and it involves throwing and catching as well. They learn how to move their feet, hips, and shoulders. They learn how to be aware of multiple factors that could get them "out." Even though many schools don't allow this game anymore I feel it's actually one of the best games to teach our youth.

In the end, at this age no specific sport stimulus is needed. These kids are sponges so any stimulus will do. That means playing these type of games in soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc. will teach them agility that will translate to everything they do. Next week I will introduce some more games that get a little more "sport specific" but still keep it fun and in the overall picture.

The Other Side:
Finally my buddy Jake Blauvelt has a website. We've been bothering him for a while now but it just went up and it looks great. It has episodes from his FuelTV show "Blauvelt's Backcountry." Check it out Here!

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