Athlete Training and Development


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Implement a Policy for Ratio of Practices to Games
Teach Age Appropriate Skill Development


1. Implement a Policy for Ratio of Practices to Games

Swimming Example:

    Age 5-7:

        Two 20-60 minute session per week
        Focus on basic water skills and strokes, kick and diving techniques
        Focus on 25-meter distances
        No competition
    Age 8-9:

        2-3 sessions per week of 45-60 minutes
        More advanced skills and techniques
        Focus on 25-50 meter distances
        Competition for self-improvement and fun
    Age 10-12:

        3-5 sessions per week of 60-90 minutes
        Introduction to more competitive stroke techniques
        Start interval training
        High-level competition (state level)
    Age 13-16:

        5-9 sessions per week of 90-120 minutes
        Gear training for season competition with peaking for 1-2 events
        Competition at the highest levels possible

Baseball/Pitching Example:

    Age 8-10: 50-60 pitches per week
    Age 10-12: 60-80 pitches per week
    Age 12-14: 80-90 pitches per week
    Age 16+: 100-120 pitches per week

Running Example:

    Duration of each session should not exceed 1-1/2 hours.
    Do not increase mileage by more than 10% per week.

    Age 9-11: Not more than 3-4 times per week, 3 miles maximum distance
    Age 12-14: Not more than 3-4 times per week, 6 miles maximum distance
    Age 15-16: Not more than 5-6 times per week, 13 miles maximum distance
    Age 17-18: Not more than 5-6 times per week, 25 miles maximum distance

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2. Teach Age Appropriate Skill Development

Children’s sports promote fitness and prevent obesity, but not all children thrive in formal leagues. It is important for children to find the right sport and venue-whether it’s at school, a recreation center, or in the back yard.

Website help: minnesotahockeyhep.com/hockey-resources

Example: What are age-appropriate activities?

Regardless of your child’s age, he or she will show some natural preferences. Some children love the water from the first splash, while others react with fear. Some get a charge out of rough-and-tumble games; others dislike the shoves and bumps. You may have been the star of your football team, but your child may prefer dancing and that’s just fine.

Children don’t need organized athletics to develop athletic skills or to get physical activity.

“A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to include sports,”

says Edward Laskozski, M.D., co-director of the Sports Medicine Clinic at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

“It’s more important that a child is involved in some sort of physical activity, whether it’s hiking and biking with the family or playing pickup baseball or basketball with the neighborhood kids.”

Every child develops at a different rate. It’s best to work within a child’s maturity and skill level.

Ages 2-3: Very young kids are beginning to master many basic movements like running, catching, and jumping, and they’re too young for most types of structured exercise. Try:

  • Running and walking, in a yard or playground
  • Swinging on a yard or playground set
  • Supervised water play
  • Toddler gymnastics classes led by professionals
  • Tumbling

Ages 4-6:

  • Dancing
  • Games such as hopscotch or tag
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing catch with a lightweight ball
  • Riding a tricycle or a bike with training wheels

After age 6: Children’s motor skills and sense of safety improve. Children may also be ready for team sports.

Ages 7-10:

  • Baseball
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Biking

Ages 10+:

  • Carefully supervised weight training
  • Organized team sports
  • Rowing
  • Running Track and Field Events
  • Softball

When it comes to organized sports, make sure the child really wants to play. Never force a child to participate or join a team. Also consider the child’s schedule. Children, who are already signed up for music lessons and the school play, may feel overwhelmed if athletics are added to the mix.

Another example: Kids and Sports Skills

A Guide for Parents and Coaches: Understanding what to expect from kids of different ages. (Author unknown)

Remember Mom, Dad, and Coaches…

I’m 4, 5, or 6 years old…

  1. I’ll have a tendency to keep the ball once I get control of it. I’ll likely run in a straight line, even if I am going the wrong way, and may not stop at the field boundaries.
  2. I may be easily distracted by things around the athletic event, such as a neat frog, butterflies, airplanes, or whatever takes my attention.
  3. There will probably be a big difference in my attention span between ages 4 to 6. At age 4, I may be unable to understand games or keep up physically with the 6-year-olds. At age 6, I will be more likely to understand the game basics and control a ball with my hands or feet.
  4. Generally, I will enjoy the physical activity. I may be content to just stand in a field and occasionally reach out for the ball if it comes close to me.
  5. Teamwork is a difficult concept for me to grasp…I generally have a “me” or “mine” concept of the game. My awareness of teammates for passing will often be difficult for me to attain.
  6. Catching the ball is difficult for me, but generally I am able to make a catch before it bounces twice.
  7. I am able to kick a stationary ball but have difficulty kicking a rolling ball.
  8. I have very little concern with winning or losing.
  9. I may or may not appear to understand instructions from coaches. Remember…keep the instructions direct because I am unable to interpret vague or ambiguous statements.

I’m 7 or 8 years old…

  1. I am beginning to understand the team concept idea.
  2. I am switching from the “me” and “mine” concept to realize that teammates are a present tool.
  3. Look, I’ve developed the ability to catch a gently thrown ball.
  4. Most of the time, I am able to dribble a ball continuously with the hands and feet without loss of control.
  5. I am able to learn and understand rules of the game.
  6. From my point of view…playing the game is the major thing…winning is not a major concern.
  7. I will accept instructions by my coaches, but I need them to be direct and not ambiguous.
  8. I may get overloaded by my parents/fans shouting instructions. Let the coaches coach…let them give me instructions.
  9. I can become easily embarrassed by intense, negative criticism by fans/parents.

I’m 9 or 10 years old…

  1. I am able to maintain a dribble with hands or feet.
  2. I am able to control a ball using a variety of body parts, i.e. a thigh or head in soccer, or forearm pass volley in volleyball.
  3. I am able to consistently hit a thrown ball with a bat (as in baseball) or racquet (as in tennis or ping-pong).
  4. Using my maturing motor skills, I am able to throw, catch, or kick.
  5. I am able to use either hand or foot with competency.
  6. I now have well established the team concept.
  7. I may be easily embarrassed by intense, negative criticism and behaviors by adults.
  8. I now can accept the instructions of coaches. I may be able, to some degree, to interpret ambiguous directions, but receiving parental instruction at the same time as coaching instruction can confuse me.

I’m 11 or 12 years old…

  1. I am able to throw or kick a ball with accuracy and for distance.
  2. I am able to hand or foot dribble a ball while keeping an opponent from stealing it.
  3. I am able to develop offensive and defensive tactics in team games.
  4. I am able to combine individual physical skills in a competent manner, such as leaping, rolling, weight transfer, hand/foot dribble, running, and throwing, etc.
  5. While being guarded by an opponent, I am able to throw and catch.
  6. I can accept decisions of game officials even if I disagree with the call.
  7. I understand that skill improvement requires input of practice time and effort.
  8. I accept the instruction from coaches. I may even make my own modificaitons of coaching directions.

I’m 13 or 14 years old…

  1. I will combine different physical skills to a more competent level.
  2. I have a tendency to practice skills learned in practice on my own.
  3. My interest is growing in developing, improving, and maintaining body composition.
  4. I know, and can describe, proper conduct for participation in sporting activities, including ethical and unethical behavior.
  5. My taking part in physical activities has made me recognize long term physiological and psychological benefits.
  6. I am accepting of instructions by coaches but may become angry at negative fan/parent yelling or instructions during games.

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