Drills to Help Kids Become Better Athletes
Getting kids involved in sports at a young age can help them develop a number of skills well beyond the ones they’ll need to master their sport. Playing sports can help with self-esteem, can improve educational performance, help them be team players and keep them active and physically fit.
No matter the reason for getting involved in sports, when young athletes start training early for strength, agility, and speed, they will be ahead of the game no matter what sport they play. But training doesn’t look the same for kids as it does for adults. Here are some drills that will help young athletes train for strength, agility, and speed.
Squats have been called the “King of all exercises,” and for good reason. Squats enhance overall fitness by strengthening the muscles in the leg, some of the largest muscles in our bodies. The legs hold the entire weight of our body and squatting activates the lower back muscles, creating a strong foundation for both running and jumping. Squats also help create flexibility in the hips and ankles.
When teaching a young athlete to squat, it’s important to stress good form as that form will follow them through adulthood. Start with toes straight and make sure the knees stay in line with the toes. You can also use wall squats to teach youth athletes proper form.
Rowing is easy for kids to pick up on and building upper body strength will help build a strong foundation and teach good posture.
Rowing is perfect for young athletes because it’s a low impact workout that doesn’t put extra strain on joints. It’s a great cardio workout that helps build stamina for long-distance running but also a great anaerobic workout, a high intensity work that will get your heart rate up.
The lunge is right up there with the squat when it comes to building strength in the lower body but it can also teach young athletes to use their legs independently from the rest of their body and improve their motor control and balance. Proper lunge technique will help athletes see connections between strength training in the gym and real-world situations.
Lunges help improve:
- Unilateral movement
- Range of motion
- Hip mobility
- Glute strength
Drills for Improving Power
No matter what sport an athlete plays, drills that help them increase the power and speed behind their movements can help them excel on the field, the court, or the track.
Since most sports involve running, the arm mechanics behind good running form are important. Proper arm mechanics will increase an athlete’s rhythm and speed.
Don’t assume that proper running form comes naturally. Help a young athlete develop the proper form by having them swing their arms while seated on the floor.
Yes, skipping. Skipping is not only fun, it can be a beneficial drill when there’s a little more power behind it. High power skipping is great for strength building in younger athletes who aren’t quite ready for weight training.
To give the skips some extra power, try two different forms; high or long skipping. “High power skipping involves higher (vertical knee) jumps and long skipping involves longer (covering more land/horizontal) jumps.”
Running short distances really quickly can help young athletes develop good running form and can help prepare them for for quick starts and teach them how to gain maximum coverage.
“Successive short sprints also help develop players’ ability to cover great distances in a short period of time.”
Agility drills are essential to developing a young athlete’s performance. Agility training can build balance, coordination, and hand-eye coordination.
Developing deceleration skills will help athletes avoid injury so it’s important they learn to safely land or slow down early in their sports careers. Proper deceleration techniques will also help improve performance.
Whether they’re maneuvering a ball around cones or just their feet, cone dribbling drills can help athletes improve their agility.
These drills will help any young athlete move faster, get stronger, and excel at the sport of their choice. Try them at home during sports or in the off-season to keep young athletes moving.
And when they’re done training, don’t let their stinky shoes stink up your car or the house. The ShoeSling® has antimicrobial technology so you can throw dirty, stinky shoes into the ShoeSling® without having to worry about the dirt and stink getting into your gym bags or your SUV! Then, when you get home, throw the ShoeSling® in the wash.