Try these five fun activities to keep your youth athletes in the right mindset for winning performances.
By guest author Samantha Kirkwood.
For up-and-coming athletes, the pressure of staying in shape often gets muddled up with stressors such as school deadlines, jam-packed schedules, social media and electronics. Thus, when their sport’s season ends, their daily lives become a little less active as training doesn’t start back up again until the next season.
What these athletes don’t realise is that this mindset can be destructive to their performance in the next season, as well as their health in the long run.
“The lack of fundamental movement skills in our current youth has been brought on by the decline of outdoor play and multiple sports play, and diminishing physical education time paired with longer periods of sedentary, seated time,” Jeremy Frisch shares on the SimpliFaster blog.
Immobility is a major concern, especially for developing children that should be forming healthy habits at a young age. Regular physical activity not only boosts their athletic performance, but it also increases the likelihood of regular exercise in adulthood, a necessity given how much time adults spend working at their desk or seated in general. For these said adults, Pain Free Working suggest squeezing in desk exercises whenever possible. However, building these kids movement skills at an early age will help them combat, or at least delay, many of the health issues that develop later on in life.
Instead of making young athletes run laps on the track in the off season, here are five some exciting activities to keep them sharp and in shape:
Whether introduced as extra-curricular or as part of the school’s physical education program, gymnastics is a fantastic way to keep kids moving and developing skills that will help them in their designated sport. While sports like basketball and football look drastically different from gymnastics, the kind of movements involved in gymnastic exercises improves balance, coordination, flexibility and strength.
Speaking of increasing strength and flexibility, ballet is another discipline that is an excellent option for cross-training. According to MultiBriefs Exclusive, a young baseball player in Florida claims that his ballet training helped him improve in his primary sport, to which his coach responded by saying he ought to make the entire team take up the dance. Plus, ballet not only decreases chances of injury on the field, but it also promotes mental wellbeing.
Give kids the opportunity to slow things down by introducing them to yoga. With the common misconception of yoga simply being a form of stretching, young ones in sports will find the practice as a new, interesting challenge that will teach them how to breathe while gaining strength and balance. This is possible because the poses help create an awareness of the entire body, specifically what muscles need to be activated in order to move a certain way.
4. Obstacle Course
To boost morale and teamwork, have the team participate in an obstacle course. Even though this would be a timed event, the goal is to get the whole team to work together so they cross the finish line at the same time, which means getting the kids to help when others are struggling. Rocky Top Sports World reminds its readers that you don’t have to actually bring them to a facility that specialises in this kind of activity, as you can easily set up a fun obstacle course at home or on a nearby field.
5. Roller Skating
Often recommended as a cross-training activity for runners, roller skating is actually suited for both adult and young athletes. Roller skating might not build muscle strength like some of the other activities do, but it does improve cardiovascular fitness, and helps with balance and coordination. As shared on the official Special Olympics website, roller skating works well for kids with limited balance, yet still offers a challenge for advanced athletes.
Whether they stick to one of these activities in their offseason or mix it up, coaches, parents and athletes themselves will realise how they spend their downtime truly affects performance in their chosen sport.