From a young age it’s important to elicit children with the habit and desire for physical activity. At a young age, children are easily moldable so it is a crucial time period to install proper movement patterns within them not only for better performance (if they’re playing sports) but to instill good habits of enjoying exercise early in life! Learning a motor skill properly the first time is far easier than having to relearn and correct something. This will develop good strength early and prevent injuries later in life.
We believe children should develop a love, dedication and habit of being physically active and early as possible, but when it comes down to embedding those ideals, it may be a challenge and struggle to get them to see exercise as fun and not a chore. Here’s some easy tips I use when training youth to encourage their willingness to participate, keep them engaged and actually enjoy themselves while they get active!
The first thing I focus on is making it fun by gamifying the workout so that they think it’s playing rather than working, it helps to keep their focus. If a child does not find something entertaining it will be a struggle to keep their head and focus in the workout as well as their willingness to participate without a fight. Making it something that engages their need to be thrilled and excited keeps them in it for longer.
Exercise Example: It can be as simple as having one group at one end of a line of rings and group on the other; each team sends a teammate hopping down the rings until the two meet in the middle where they battle it out in a game of rock paper scissors. Performing this for a given amount of time will not only keep them occupied but also allow them to not realize they are engaging in physical activity for the sake of playing a simple rock paper scissors tournament! It always seems to work best when their training is a game-like workout.
The next thing to keep in mind is to making the workout goal oriented. Unlike adults who can “just workout” (e.g. performing three rounds of three exercises for four stations and call it a day) with the satisfaction of their fitness being their reward, children enjoy the instant gratification of having completed something measurable. The chance to succeed or fail and prevailing in the task keeps them motivated to work at a diligent pace as well as keep working towards that end goal. It’s best to set goals that seems challenging to them but is within their abilities to achieve.
Another helpful technique in training the youth is to incorporate teamwork. When children see other kids exceling in a task it encourages them to do so as well. Not only are they finding more motivation from their teammates to push harder but they are also learning communication skills and cooperation. The number one benefit though is creating relationships. If the child enjoys working with the people around them they are more likely to be excited to attend the training and participate in the activities. Skills like these will take them much further in life than just being fast!
The final key to training youth more than just making it fun and engaging is to make sure the exercises within the workout are safe for that age range. For a long time there has been a negative stigma in performing strength training with younger children due to fear of injury resulting in stunting their growth and other long-term adverse health effects. There are some age limitations to certain exercises but with proper knowledge and training, there are a vast range of exercises and training applications that can be used to help increase a child’s speed, strength, agility, coordination, spatial awareness and more. The sooner they can learn proper movement patterns, the better!
Try out these tips with your children or kids you work with and see how it helps you with getting them moving and active from a young age to encourage and create healthy lifestyle habits from the start! Even just a little activity every day consistently, will have an impact on your child’s health and field game!
Sometimes it’s better to have someone else teach the kids than just their parents. If that’s the case, leave it up to the G+O Coaches.
Our next youth fitness course is starting soon.
You can register for free here.