Monday, November 14, 2011

Flanking Fitness Part 2: Youth Sports and Physical Acitvity

If you haven't read part 1 yet of Flanking Fitness, go back and read that first.   Our entire field of sports performance or athletic development training is based on a flanking manuever.  We (coaches/trainers) will improve athletes at their sport without actually practicing the sport itself. 

As we look at youth sports, I feel that we are in some serious trouble.  Physical education is being cut at schools daily if it hasn't been already, obesity rates for youth are the highest it's ever been, media has scared parents from letting kids play unless a "play date" is arranged, and club sports now have elite level teams for 5 year olds.  There are some serious battles on both ends of the pendulum. 

On one extreme, kids are unhealthy in every way possible and absolutely hate physical activity.  On the other, kids are put on a traveling team at age 7 and our early dropout rates are absurd.  On either extreme, the end result seems to be the same.... Instead of physical activity being a beneficial and fun way to improve your quality of life, it has become something we think of as a chore and another event to try and schedule in on our iPads. 

How are we facing the youth fitness problem head on?  Play dates, sessions with trainers, forcing kids on sports teams, etc.  Physical activity and athletics is now a chore.  

How can we flank it?   Dave Jack and I had a conversation a while back on how making it fitness based is the wrong idea for young kids.  Making it an enjoyable experience through movement is imperative.  We can't hit this head on where we force kids to move.  I wish like hell we could bring back fun PE classes with gymnastic rings, climbing ropes, jump ropes, monkey bars, etc.  The playground seems to have disappeared in every facet of physical activity.  These fun environments are gone.

I grew up in an environment where physical activity and sports were just apart of what we did.  All of my friends growing up still play sports, rock climb, snowboard, etc. because it's fun.  We have this connection with fitness in a way that we don't even consider it fitness, it's just how you live.  We also were allowed to ride our bikes everywhere and play sports without 10 parents and a doctor watching.

My biggest suggestion is to create environments where MOVEMENT is fun.  Create a positive experience, and let everything else fall into place.

I wish I had more specific answers because I know how sports has made my life so much fun and how many great people I've met playing basketball, soccer, or lifting weights.  These have become life long connections that we still talk about and share to this day.

Comment below with your idea's on how we can win the battle on youth sports. 

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