Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/7/14

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Before we get the ball rolling on the good reads for the week, I wanted to briefly share an email exchange I had with a colleague who happens to a diesel mom to boot.

Q: I wondered what your thoughts are on all of these youth plyo and conditioning classes popping up all over? I’m at my daughter’s dance class and they offer them here. My gut sat in my throat as I watched a 10 year old perform DB overhead presses LA Fitness style with his arms wobbling all over. I swear he was either going to dislocate his shoulder or knock himself out.

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve watched this. I always balked at the Gym Dad who put their sons through shitty workouts, but these are coaches apparently trained to teach these things. These coaches work with kids in off season and in season to condition them for sports. They sponsor most of the games too.

A: Yeah, the whole idea suspect to say the least. I don’t agree with them at all  <—- and I’m being really good in restraining myself here.

Whenever I have a parent ask me about agility/plyo/conditioning training or how I’m going to make their kid faster I just use my trusted Indy 500 analogy, which is this:

If I were to take a Honda Civic and give it a sweet paint job, new wheels, a spoiler, and make it look fast……would you expect it to win the Indy 500?

Um, no. Unless you increase the actual horse power of the engine you’ll have a better shot at punching a Yeti in the face while on riding a Unicorn.

[Okay, I don’t usually use the Yeti and Unicorn reference, but it worked well here.]

Getting stronger is like increasing the horse power. You get stronger (and focus on movement quality), you’re able to generate more force into the ground, and you’re then able to run faster, throw harder, jump higher, and increase your general level of awesome.

Strength is the basis for everything. It’s really, really, REALLY hard to have agility, power, endurance, speed-endurance, or any other “quality” you can think of (invisibility?) without first having a base of strength to “pool” everything from.

All these “speed camps” and youth conditioning classes, in my opinion, are nothing more than a ploy to give the illusion that *something* is being done and to make the parents go “oooooo” and “ahhhhhh.”

And of course, to make money.  I can’t fault the latter point (I guess).  But, come on….does a twelve year old really need to be doing foot work drills?

And what the heck does a “youth conditioning class” even mean?

Tell your kid to go outside a play some pick-up basketball. Play some kick-ball. Climb a tree.  Anything!

Anything outdoors will be a helluva lot more beneficial than some speed camp that makes kids perform those silly cone drills or ladder drills that most aren’t remotely prepared enough to be doing anyways

Plus, you’ll save yourself $99.

Just my two cents.  Which, coincidentally is a lot cheaper.

Do any of you have any thoughts on the matter???  Sound of in the comments section.

My Experience at the Assessing Movement Conference – Kasey Esser

Recently both Gray Cook and Dr. Stuart McGill sat down to discuss their “differences” in opinion on movement, assessment, and whether or not the second season of House of Cards is going to live up to season one.

This was like the fitness industry’s equivalent of Gandalf and Yoda squaring off.

Kasey was kind enough to send me his review on the weekend, and I thought it was fantastic.  Plus it served as a nice appetizer for when the DVD is available – I can’t freakin wait!

3 Overrated Supplements – (via Adam Bornstein)

I really liked this post over on Adam’s site which took to task a handful of supplements that tend to get a lot of press for how beneficial they are, when they’re anything but.

The next time someone asks you your opinion on raspberry ketones (something Dr. Oz made popular) you can refer them to this post.

The Secret to Ab Training – Mike Robertson

Many of Mike’s thoughts on this subject mirror many of the same thoughts we use at Cressey Performance.  As always, Mike drops some knowledge bombs and helps to elucidate on how important EXHALING his to core performance and training.

I know it sounds weird, but it’s definitely worth the read.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

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Comments for This Entry

  • Michael Zweifel

    I agree with most of what you iterate about youth athletes, but the problem I see is that kids just do NOT play anymore. Parents are hesitant to let them go to the park or play outside alone. Plus living in the midwest, playing outdoors is out of the question for 4-6 months out of the year. So I 100% feel youngsters would benefit from a well-structured fitness program. Now I do feel about 99% of youth speed/agility programs are just horrible. But how we structure it at our facility is to structure our program with as much free play and exploration as we can. Our training effect is a byproduct of fun, play, and games. We use things like ladders but not for a speed effect, I think they do develop some coordination, body control, and body awareness; plus kids really enjoy them. They don't have to know the real reason behind it's use. So I guess where I disagree is that I feel more comfortable with youngsters coming into a safe, structured, and play-like environment where they are learning the basics of movement and technique rather than sitting on their butts at home playing video games.

    February 7, 2014 at 10:51 am | Reply to this comment

    • OBoile

      Why is playing outdoors out of the question? I assume it is the winter you're referring to here. Skiiing, building a snow fort/snow man, toboganing, snowball fights etc. I live in Canada and winter has never kept me in.

      February 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Reply to this comment

      • Michael Zweifel

        Yes there are things you can do in the winter, but they are limited compared to other times of the year. And like I mentioned it seems parents today are hesitant to let kids out of there sight and play. I definitely encourage kids to be kids and play, but today being a kids mean playing video games, not being outside. I also don't know how this winter has been in Canada, but in the last month here, there have been very few days above zero degrees and the conditions don't allow to even be outside for more than a few minutes at a time.

        February 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm | Reply to this comment

      • TonyGentilcore

        I used to CRUSH building forts in the snow back in the day. Another winter fav was King-of-the-Mountain and playing "army."

        February 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      That's a whole nother discussion Michael. I TOTALLY agree with that kids don't play anymore. I've joked about it in the past, but many kids are more interested in how many texts they send in one day than walking down to the local diamond to play some pick-up baseball. Compound that with school cutting PE classes and LIMITING access to recess, and you're building a culture of laziness and stressed out kids. It's so frustrating.

      February 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Damon Brobst

    In South Florida "Speed" camps are popping up everywhere! I've watched several of these money making camps first hand, and it's sad that there are so many BAD coaches making a huge profit. Some of the feedback I get from parents is, "Coach X is awesome- he has parachutes, ladders, and hurdles, and my sons legs were sore for days, he really knows how to work the kids". There is obviously a lack of education among the parents regarding proper coaching and programming. Unfortunately, some really good coaches are losing business because they are not "flashy" enough, and actually focus on teaching the basics of movement rather than more advanced drills. On the other side, I guess even a poorly run "Speed" camp is better than having kids sit on the couch eating cheezy poofs and playing xbox...........

    February 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      That is a fair point Damon.......I guess going to a "speed" camp is the lesser of two evils. It's sad to know that many, many REALLY good coaches are losing business because they "do the dance" and give people what they "think" they need.

      February 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kate C

    I belong to a gym in the UK that has a kids club so some of my kids' activity is playing games there. They are the kind of playground games and some climbing and stuff as they have a soft play area. They do play out too, more so in the summer when nights are light. The gym does offer a class for the older kids and they do a kids spinning session (that my son is desperate to go to!) but the basis is fun and being active, not getting fitter, faster, etc. However, a while back, I would turn up for an (adult) class early and one of the PTs would be in the studio working with a girl a little older than mine (mine are 7 and nearly 9). She was there every week for about 5 weeks. Seriously, I could not believe it - there is absolutely no need for a child in primary school (what you call elementary) to be seeing a PT (and it costs a bloody fortune there too). And the mother was there too - if she wanted her to be more active, perhaps she could have just directed a bit more of her play and save herself the money.

    February 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Pat

    This is the reason why as a PE teacher I always incorporate game days into my classes. So many parents and student athletes get so stuck in wanting to do special things they see online, in a magazine, or hear about. They are kids and as long as they have quality PE growing days are awesome!

    February 7, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Andrew Sacks

    If I had a dollar for every time a parent demanded to know why their middle-school-age child wasn't doing more "speed and agility work" I'd be at least $100 richer. Still irritated, but richer nonetheless. Glad I'm not the only one who doesn't care for speed camps marketed towards children.

    February 7, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shane Mclean

    Starting to think Eric, you and Mike could possibly be the same person. All you guys change the way I train. For the better. Thank you.

    February 9, 2014 at 10:00 am | Reply to this comment

  • Karen

    I am a personal trainer. My husband signed my 8 year old stepson up for a local sports conditioning class and I was horrified to hear what they had these youngsters doing. Tire flips, bicep curls! Tire flips ...really?!!!!!! At first my husband thought it was great until I explained how dangerous this was for them. Is it a wonder why the kids grow up and then go into the with gym with bad information , form and head straight to doing bicep curls..... ? The parents need to be educated and then the children taught the proper way to train at a young age. Oh vey!

    February 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Brian

    Hey Tony. I'm a K-6 PE teacher and I will incorporate things like ladders and hurdles into fun challenges in class like obstacle courses or team relay challenges. They have their small place in my curriculum and I believe can contribute to movement coordination. As far as improving acceleration, deceleration, and agility, kids absolutely love the various "non-elimination" tag games and dodge ball games we play. We often incorporate them into our warm-up. They are great because they provide so many random, reactive movement opportunities, and the kids work hard without even knowing it!

    February 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kimberly Louise

    Hi, nice blog Really very interesting post shared above. Awaiting for more posts like this.

    February 10, 2014 at 3:20 am | Reply to this comment

  • John

    I'm almost as old as dirt, but I remember kids (girls mostly) doing footwork drills/ladders back in the 1960's and 70's. They called it hopscotch and it was played outdoors, the game was generally drawn out with sidewalk chalk. Even played outside if it was hot.

    February 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Jeff

    Ah yes...the speed camp. There is one run at local high school here in Orange County (CA) and the guy has even made up his own 7 "components of speed" or something. Zero education/certifications by the way. A few of his unfortunate clients with ACL tears have become patients at the physical therapy clinic/sports performance facility that I coach at where their parents can sit and read "Make My Kid Run Faster" and this article as it sits near the magazine rack in the waiting area while their kid takes 4-6 months to undo the damage of one afternoon at the "speed camp."

    February 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Reply to this comment

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