Yes, I just put “youth athletes” and “love” and “fitness” in the same sentence. I do believe it’s possible to inspire kids to develop a passion for movement, despite the battle with technology nowadays.
With the rise of Fortnite, video games, and cell phone use, kids are exercising exponentially less, making it harder for parents, coaches, and trainers to instill the importance of physical activity in their kids. Whether this is going to the gym, going outside to play tag, or climbing up trees, or building snowmen, or practicing soccer skills on their own in their front yards, kids aren’t moving as much. And it terrifies me.
Truthfully, this should scare a lot of people, especially the folks involved in youth sports. Coaches and parents, I urge you to take action after reading this piece. I urge you to execute these exercises at home. On the pitch. Show your kids fitness can be fun and enthralling. I promise they will LOVE these exercises.
With that said, here’s how to inspire youth athletes to love fitness:
1. Make your drills competitive
Nothing sparks passion more than competition. After 7 years of coaching, I’ve learned that kids engage in fitness drills when competition is high.
Not only does this elicit a tremendous amount of intensity, but it adds in some fun. One thing I’ll jokingly say before we perform races is, “find a partner you are best friends with.”
And then the two best friends compete. Not only do they go all-out, but they have fun making each other better.
One competition I’ve done over the years is Pull-Up Hold Battles. Athletes must hold this position longer than their partner:
Or, Ladder Chase Races when you have to tag your partner:
2. Bring the energy.
I don’t care if you’re teaching the squat, lecturing an athlete on protein intake, reading the Harry Potter series word-for-word, or coaching the Pallof Press, have energy behind your message.
Bring. The. Juice.
Sure, youth athletes want to know “why” they’re doing an exercise and how it will translate to sport performance (I discuss this in Total Youth Soccer Fitness), but that should be your default as a coach anyway. Bring the freaking energy.
Don’t be flat.
Don’t be boring.
Don’t be a snooze.
Rather, crack jokes. Smile. Have Fun. Be a complete idiot.
After all, aren’t you preaching to your youth athletes to have fun and enjoy?
Yeah, I have an idea: you do the same and they will feed off of it.
3. Make drills into fun games.
Speaking of fun, this is when you can get creative with your fitness drills.
But first, figure out what 1-2 skills you want to teach that day, then design a game around it.
As an example, if you want to teach “core stability” then maybe try these games:
Or, if you want to teach “reactive agility” then try this:
Of course, these are just the beginning.
To inspire kids to fall in love with fitness and physical activity for a lifetime, and to urge parents, coaches, and trainers to execute a plethora of fun, safe, and effective drills, I created the Total Youth Soccer Fitness Program.
It not only addresses how to train kids safely based on growth spurts and maturation levels, but also, how to get them to love working out. <— remember, cell phones and Fornite suck. ;-O
The Total Youth Soccer Fitness Program is the only program out there that outlines everything you need to know on youth soccer fitness, from warm-up, to coordination and speed mechanics, to strength training and injury prevention, to recovery and nutrition, to programming (with specific schedules and sets/reps), and to mental training (positive mindset). Everything is right at your fingertips for you to reference each day with your soccer kids.
Coaches, parents, trainers, and anyone involved with youth soccer players will benefit from this program.
And of course, I’ll be here as a resource once you have it by your side.
I’m happy to help, nerd out, and talk everything youth fitness with you. Don’t believe? Many of my readers will tell you what I do best: hopping on the phone and connecting with humans.
Sale price is $67 from Nov 28-Dec 1st, then after that, regular price is $97. Don’t. Miss. It.
One more thing: if you want to get it for your kids for the holidays, it’s a kid-friendly written program. I wrote it for youth athletes to read and execute on their own time as well. The exercise science information is also simplified, and will teach kids about the anatomy of the body, if they ever want to become a strength coach, physical therapist, or doctor later in life. Just something to ponder. 🙂
You can buy it now here.
Thank you all for the support and I hope it serves as a powerful impetus to keep your kids strong, healthy, and empowered for a lifetime.