One thing that I truly admire about kids, is they put up with just about anything you throw at them. In terms of exercise, they will do crazy feats like wind sprints till they puke (suicides ring a bell?). At a young age, it’s about proving to you, their friends, and themselves that they can put themselves through torture.
If you had to compare a kid to a piece of metal, they would have be very ductile (bendable). However, their ultimate stress, so the amount of physical work that it would take to break them, is low.
Starting a youth exercising early in life causes their bodies to slowly become stronger. In fact, if they are pushed but not to the breaking point, their tolerance to stress increases exponentially. When they become an adult (after puberty) they become a piece of hardened steel ready to do even more physical work.
Some keys for helping youth reach their potential:
- Keep sport and exercise fun. Especially at very young ages.
- Speed is critical in their youth. Include games or sports with sprints to help develop leg speed.
- Sport specific is not necessary until puberty. The more exposure to different events will help build youths into better people/athletes when they are older.
- Building the cardiovascular system is important in the puberty stage.
- Weights should wait till after puberty.
Folling these steps, at the adult stage the athlete will be ready to participate in higher competition. This could mean more frequent events or longer duration events. The key, is not rushing the stages of development.
If a child wishes to pursue a life of sport, whether competitive or not, make sure to keep an open mind and be ready for change. Building a foundation that is sound will create a individual who will be tough as gold.
And isn’t that the dream?