With the advent of the culture, “more games equal better athletes,” there has been a decline in the amount of time spent on foundational skills. Building relative body strength, teaching running mechanics, injury mitigation, and building confidence: all should be the primary focus, especially in the youth athlete.
Most coaches are great at coaching the fundamentals of their specific sports. Too few kids are exposed to an external atmosphere where they’re learning the fundamentals to optimal body movement and strength.
What are most sports made of? Running, hopping, squatting, turning, avoiding, jumping, landing, lunging...Balance, coordination, speed, agility, power, strength, mobility... Athleticism is an outcome of several factors. Some of them we are not able to influence (genetics etc.) but most of them we can improve. Every athlete can become faster, stronger or more flexible by building a bigger base to his or her “athletic pyramid.”
A big part of building that foundation is paying attention to the details – the minute but not insignificant elements when trying to mold a good athlete into a great one.
From decelerating properly when making a cut on the field or court, to learning to brace properly as they’re trying to make an explosive movement. From learning and understanding why shin angles are important, to properly using the hips when sprinting and jumping.
Those are what we call movement skills and the younger we can get them in a training program that teaches them these things, the better overall their long-term athletic development (LTAD) will be.
The goals of Movement Skill Training are to:
Ensure the integrity of the movement foundation.
Find and fill the missing links in athletic development.
Improve all the fundamental movement patterns and skills
Cover the development of all motor components such as balance, speed or strength.
Attention to detail can mean a shortstop pulling his glove up too early and missing the ball, or a wide receiver taking his eye off the ball too early and missing the pass. Or it can mean the difference between running a 1.50second 10-yd sprint or a 1.41 10-yd sprint, by focusing on bracing/breathing properly, getting more knee drive, and increasing their arm drive.
Attention to detail will help them off the field as well. Instilling a culture that requires the athlete to be accountable for their actions is just as important as the performance training. Handshakes with eye contact, yes-sir no-sir, will go a long way for their character development.
And at the end of the day, that is what we're really here for - to help them gain confidence and become better people through sports and training.
In good speed, Ben MacArthur