With the growing epidemic of youth obesity, there has never been a greater need for sound physical fitness programs for children. When constructing a basic youth fitness training program for younger athletes in the 6 to 9 year old range, there are several key concepts to focus on that will help children yield superior results.
1) First and foremost, the program must be FUN and involves differing types of play. Pretty simply, if you don’t keep it fun, you are not going to keep the children engaged, and your results are going to suffer. Mixing games into a training program also breaks up the emphasis on endless drills, which can be mentally exhausting and monotonous for a child.
2) Secondly, children need variety in the exercises, drills, and games that will constitute the bulk of their workouts. This variety can come not only in the types of activities they engage in, but also in the terrain and situations, as well. The more information that a child can absorb and process by being placed in fresh situations, the better they will be able to perform in future challenges, as they develop.
3) Third, and possibly most importantly, children must be given time to gain understanding and mastery of the new skills and abilities they are developing. This requires patience on a coach’s part, but that will be rewarded as children build stronger fundamentals and proper training form. The absolute worst thing you can do when training a child is to rush them through drills or a program and focus on results. This can reinforce bad habits and lead to injuries and disinterest.
4) Finally, keep things positive. At this age, children react much more effectively to praise and encouragement, rather than criticism and negative assessments. The goal should be to encourage a life-long love of fitness.
With that being said, here is a short, sample routine that you can put a small group of young athletes through to get them moving in the right direction towards optimal fitness levels.
BASIC YOUTH FITNESS TRAINING SAMPLE ROUTINE 1
Opening Stretches – (5 Minutes)
Game 1 – Sharks and Minnows (Basketball or Soccer Version) (2 Rounds) (5-10 Minutes)
Exercise 1 – Push-ups (3 sets of 5) (5 Minutes)
Game 2 – Basketball Dribbling Relay Race (Best 2 out of 3) (5 Minutes)
Exercise 2 – Sit-ups (3 sets of 20) (5 Minutes)
Game 3 – Tug of War (Best 2 out of 3) (5 Minutes)
Finishing Stretches – (5 minutes)