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On Youth Programs (Training), Leadership, and Ultimate

October 25, 2010

It’s election time! whether you are checkin’ out California Propositions or Governators, or perhaps more apropos to… voting for USA Ultimate Board of Directors!

In a recent USA Ultimate BOD interview, Pacific Northwest candidate Mike Payne recently spoke about the importance of youth ultimate, leadership, and the future of the sport.

“Everyone agrees,” Mike Payne reminds us, that we need to invest in Youth Ultimate, not only in the institutional level (USA Ultimate policies) but in leadership, time, and training. Last year we interviewed Jason Chow, but this year takes on the task, asking Mike Payne about the current standing of youth ultimate.

So, just remember, whether you are letting a few rogue high school players practice/apprentice with your college team, or just teaching them to flick 88 yards, vote now at =)

And thanks candidate Mike Payne for the great comments on youth & leadership!

But back to training, this time for youth specifically.

Should kids strength train? I’m just going to refer folks to Eric Cressey’s great summary on the truth about kids and resistance training, but pull out a short para:

If you really think about it, an athlete is placing a ton of stress (4-6 times body weight in ground reaction forces, depending on who you ask) each time he/she strides during the sprinting motion. Kids jump out of trees all the time. They lug around insanely heavy backpacks relative to their body mass. Performance, general health, and self-esteem benefits aside, it’s only right to give them a fighting chance in trying to avoid injury.

That said, I am not necessarily recommending here that you do American-style “plyometrics” [i.e. box jumps], but with proper supervision, who wouldn’t want a teenager (or younger) playing around with her/his bodyweight on a TRX (though they need not rush into 20kg KB + TRX-assisted rear-foot elevated split (single) leg squats), skipping rope, or biking up and down the steepest hills?

As you get younger than the teens, a useful guide for training is the LTAD, the Long Term Athlete Development model popular in many countries (and hopefully one day, moreso in the States!). And as Ultimate is a team sport, let’s be reminded of the late specialization model (i.e. do you really want your tween doing “speed camp” to get faster on the field?):

Late Specialization Model

  1. FUNdamental
  2. Learning to train
  3. Training to train
  4. Training to compete
  5. Training to win
  6. Retirement & retainment

where in the FUNdamental stage “The main objective should be the overall development of the athlete’s physical capacities and fundamental movement skills.”

Of course, for many US/UK/AU athletes, you might be still needing the FUNdamental stage up until your twenties, forties, or sixties! if you’ve never done any strength training or participated in an organized sport.

I’ll wrap up with a thought from Dan John (thanks to DragonDoor / Pavel Tsatsouline for a great conference call in promotion of Dan & Pavel’s strength workshop), where he suggested that teenagers and adults 30 and older have something in common: the need for hypertrophy work (!). Besides great insights about “easy strength” and armor-building for sports, Dan talked about how both teens and 30+ would benefit from more hypertrophy work than you might expect.

In contrast, a college athlete may or may not need much hypertrophy, but could focus more on injury prevention, strength or power development (not necessarily the same as hypertrophy!), endurance or skill development.

But more on that, perhaps, in another post if I can find the teleseminar logs. Until next time, “can’t anyone remember the children?!” of Ultimate players?! Vote.

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