written by Ryan Rockhill, owner and strength and conditioning coach, Athletic Republic Logan

Would you throw your child into a pool and tell her to figure it out? Would you give your child an instrument, put him in front of hundreds of people, and tell him to enlighten? Of course not. So why do parents throw their children into a sport and expect them to figure out how to run, jump, or effectively accelerate/decelerate?

There is much research showing that physical activity, exercise, and movement increases brain function and health. Yet, there are many kids who don’t get the physical activity or exercise they need because for some, moving hurts and exercise is not fun.

As kids mature and grow, their bones and muscles sometimes feel sore or “achey” because of the rapid speed at which they are developing. It is vital that, during this growing process, children’s brains are taught and trained to perform movements with proper mechanics. Moving is just like anything else, there are fundamentals that need to be practiced to become efficient.

In any sport, whether it be shooting or dribbling a basketball, throwing or catching a football or baseball, or swinging a club or bat, there are fundamental movements that need to be taught and mastered to achieve progression and success. Running, jumping/landing, and change of direction are no different. There are numerous muscle patterns and activations that need to happen for these movements to be done efficiently, and in proper sequence, to reduce the chance of injury. If an athlete goes their whole adolescent career performing these movements wrong, by the time they get to high school, and are trying to progress in their sport, they could very likely be dealing with overuse and mechanical injuries.

Neuromuscular activation training is a method that teaches athletes to control their trunk in unison with their limbs, focusing on hip and core strength. Human hips, glutes, and hamstrings are designed to be strong and powerful to support and help in the stabilization of the lower limbs. If athletes are not taught and trained to activate/utilize hip and core strength, they suffer at the lower back, hip, knee, and ankle level, leading to pain and injury.

Today’s youth athletes play more and more sports all year round, and most play more games than college strength and conditioning programs to help set themselves up for successful and injury-free careers.

Children need similar training. Let’s spend less time playing game after game, and focus more time teaching our kids proper movement patterns so they can be more successful with less chance of injury.