Sport Development for Children

There could be many take home messages from the chart contained in my last blog titled  “Track and Field Stages of Growth and Development according to Age“ chart.

One of the most important messages I'd like you to learn when discussing training young children is “less is more“.

Let’s look at one area in particular:  The volume of time for a single session.  If sessions are exceeding any of these recommended time periods at given ages, overtraining is a certainty. Overtraining leads to premature injuries, burn out and children loosing interest in sport. 

Quickly, here are 3 things you need to look for if you think your child is suffering from overtraining. 1. An inability to sleep or get to sleep 2. A sudden or unusual change in appetite ( usually, it’s a lack of appetite 3. An inability for the child to focus or concentrate . This is not an exhaustive list. Heart rate monitoring can be used , is more scientific but more time is required to track the results. 

I mention and talk about overtraining often. Despite people agreeing overtraining is a bad idea, we continue to see it over and over again. We agree there are countless things we can do to help young children. Coaching without facts and coaching that has not been based on experienced RESULTS or methods, often results in overtraining. To summarize, when using the variable of time ( in training) keep it short, to the point and don’t overwhelm.

The chart merely begins a dialogue for you as a coach or a parent.

Where do I start?

How much time do I spend?

What exercises do I perform?

Where do I start? = You start where your child is at.  Some kids want to do more. Some want to do less. Wait until they tell you if and when they are ready to begin. Pushing your child might work now but long term it will back fire. 

How much time do I spend? =You spend as little time as needed to maintain continued interest (always end sessions on positive performances when kids are feeling good). Have a plan but be more than prepared to stop your session when you see things deteriorate.

What exercises do I perform? = As far as knowing what exercises to perform? Short runs, easily performed with introductory jumps in small volumes . Throws with weightless balls. You are looking to keep things simple first and grow from there. Look to start your child out in gymnastics, swimming and track as your best development sports and the training will take care of itself.

If your child or athletes are laughing , it's usually a good sign that you are doing a great job. You will be setting them up to get short and long term results and keeping them safe at the same time. 

Enjoy your work and efforts. Coaching is hard work. 


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