Thursday, July 2, 2015


Being a youth training coach is my biggest passion and why FMU was started in the first place.

I work with hundreds of kids each week ranging from ages 5 years and up. A very important factor to take into consideration each training session is, "what are you guys doing outside of here?" As you know, some of these kids are in a lot of sports and activities each week! Well, sometimes I hear some crazy stuff that their coaches are making them do and quite honestly, it makes me cringe!

ATTN PARENTS: Be on the alert and yes, your gut is right. They probably shouldn't be doing that.


Unfortunately, any coach can just pull up a fitness forum and steal some workout ideas, which possibly prescribes a ridiculous amount of box jumps, for adults. And then unfortunately, we use box jumps as conditioning and encourage our kids to do a lot of them.

What I commonly hear from kids: "Our coaches made us go really fast when jumping on the box." "We are told to jump back not step back."  "We had to do as many as we could in 1 minute." "We did 10 reps in the circuit, and then as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes."

I think boxes can be great, just like any other implement in the gym, but WHEN DONE RIGHT. At FMU we teach landing skills more than anything and proper vertical jump technique. The box is used obviously because kids think it's fun and they like to challenge themselves. But no matter what, you must use LOW REP schemes (6-8) and constantly encourage and ensure proper technique.
  • We tell them to land on the box like a ninja, super soft so no one can hear them. 
  • We also tell them when they land on the box with two feet at the same time, land in a squat position then extend into a standing position. 
  • We also tell them to step back instead of jumping back. Jumping back down to the ground can cause a lot of wear and tear on the achilles and ankles. 
  • When we jump down from the box it's always into a ninja landing position. Again, with a soft deceleration into a squat position--pushing the butt back and feet flat. 

This is a huge concern of mine. It is very rare for me to meet a child under the age of 14 who can do 10 solid perfect push-ups in a row before form starts to break down. I would say maybe 1 out of 10 kids can do it. So when I hear how my kids are being punished to do push-ups because they lost a game or they misbehaved at practice, here are three main concerns that pop into my head:

  • I know that those 50-100 push-ups were so sloppy that they are lucky they didn't get hurt. 
  • I know that they probably just developed a negative association with push-ups now because they were used as punishment.
  • I know those push-ups didn't really teach them much about how to become a better athlete, or fix their mistakes they made in the game, or develop discipline to not misbehave again, because there's really no relationship between push-ups and the issue at hand.
I would stop using push-ups as punishment.

When we do them let's teach them. Start with the push-up hold in the top position. I can't tell you how much progress I've seen kids make from getting stronger here first. Push-ups take a lot of core strength. As my kids' core strength and control develops, so do their push-ups. Here are a few starting points and progressions you can use:
  • Hold for :10-:30 seconds.
  • Then hold for :10 seconds then add in one push-up.
  • When they're ready, or for older kids (11-14 yrs), hold for :10 seconds then add in 3 push-ups.
  • Then hold for :10 seconds then add in 3 push-ups and do that 2-3x. 
  • Or for fun challenges, work on push-up walks for 10yds, 2-3x (lateral, forward, and backward. Add spins, add a push-up at the end of 10yds, the variations are endless). Try these yourself, they are very challenging but awesome to help kids develop total body systemic strength.

I understand the desire by many to get faster but we gotta be careful here with these NFL ladder drills we're throwing out there. One of my kids told me they did a 45 minute ladder workout during practice, and it wasn't technique building with instruction and plenty of breaks either.

Why is this a problem? 
Well if we're not focusing on quality movements then we're just training bad movement patterns. The focus should not be about harder and faster but more about BETTER. "When you can do the icky shuffle better than you can go faster." "When you can do that fancy back foot crossover with finesse than you can go harder." The other main problem is the wear and tear on our kids' feet and ankles again. Remember, what are they doing outside of here? If they are playing multiple soccer games each week and on the club team and the travel team practicing a few days with each team each week, then pounding their ankles and legs again after all that wear and tear can absolutely crush them.

I love to use ladders and think they can be a phenomenal way to enhance coordination skills and good rhythm, but they're actually such a small part of my training program, not a main focus.

  • We mix them into games and obstacle courses. 
  • We usually stick to basics like running both feet in each step, two feet in and out hop scotch, one foot hop scotch, lateral in and outs with both feet, robots, etc. 
  • We tell them light and smooth.
  • We tell them try not to the hit any part of the ladder. 
  • We tell them to go slow at first and then pick up the speed gradually as they get better at flowing with the movement. 
  • *For our little kids we usually just let them explore and play with it to see what they come up with. For ages 5-9 it's more about seeing if they can figure it out, not drilling them. 
I want to throw in a bonus here. You know that INSANITY program you see on infomercials? It's never a good idea to make your kids do that workout. 

These are just a few common mistakes I'm hearing that youth coaches are making. It's usually not their fault. Some just don't know any better. That's why I'm putting this out there. I'm here to help coaches in any way possible to make sure we're doing things right with our kids. We want them to move better, we want them to feel better, and we really want them to love what they're doing.

Now, there are some coaches out there with so much ego they don't want to hear it. For them, I'd like to run them through one of my Coach Theo Adult Training Camp Workouts to humble them a little bit! 

It's not about me,
Coach Theo

*Coach Theo holds 6 youth certifications from the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association). He was also nominated as a Top 8 Finalist for the IYCA Coach of the Year. 

No comments:

Post a Comment