January 8, 2019 Andy Sutcliffe

Athletic Development Update

Boys working their Hamstrings

It’s been a busy couple of months with the introduction of Athletic Development classes at Richardson Sport, so far the feedback from athletes and parents has been extremely positive. Thank you to parents for bringing their young superstars and to Wayne and Emma for helping set up and promote, oh and not to leave out Mike Melvin too who's been a big help!

I recently put out a post on Instagram of a training hall with very basic, ‘old school’ PE equipment. I wanted to highlight how physical education has changed in recent years, resulting in a large percentage of less physically literate children. I understand it would be naïve to blame children’s lack of physical competency solely on school PE, the modern-day world provides plenty of barriers to stop children moving and engaging in physical activity. Academic pressure, less outdoor space, TV and games consoles are just a few examples that spring to mind. Unfortunately lack of physical activity and movement competency at a young age can have life-long consequences.

I guess my question is, if children are missing out on key fundamental movement development, how do we create an environment where they can develop these skills? We’ve seen ‘sporty’ kids come into Richardson Sport that can’t squat, land, balance or co-ordinate simple movements, demonstrating another problem, all to often children are thrust into a sport specific ‘professional’  training environment without any emphasis placed on developing general athleticism.  

That’s where we want to help.

A key theory I’m integrating into session planning is the youth physical development model. The model visually highlights what physical qualities should be being prioritised at what age/ stage of development. For example, children between the ages of 5-9 should be developing fundamental movement skills, agility and balance, with less emphasis placed on sport specific skill. That’s why our 6-8 years old’s class incorporates a large section dedicated to ninja warrior,a TV classic and favourite part of the session for most, an ever-changing obstacle course which develops a number of physical qualities through a wide variety of movements.

Our fitness for football athletic development classes have also proved very popular, some of the athletes were shocked that you can do an hour-long training session without kicking a ball once! At this stage of maturation (11-13 years old), strength, power and speed development require a larger emphasis. That’s why we’ve seen lots of sprint-based work, balanced out with (sometimes painful) hamstring stretches.

Moving forwards, we’re looking forward to introducing new classes and ideas, athletic development for performance (13-15-year olds) is being introduced very soon, with plenty other opportunities to get involved on the way. Keep an eye out on social media and the website for updates.

Thanks for reading,

Take care.

Andy

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