Choosing Your Path

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It’s the weight of all the little things we’ve done that tips the scale in the big moments. It’s showing up for the workout at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon when it would be easier to be somewhere else. It’s making sure your feet are in the right position for each start, especially when you’re tired and you just want to get through the session. It’s taking time to check your notes from the last training session before you design this one.

Discovering and developing our potential is a process of unfolding,one step and a time with each step informing the next. It’s an act of faith because we never know exactly where it will take us, when the “big moments” will occur or what they’ll require from us. It’s also an act of love – falling in love with the process, with taking those small steps and with being surprised by what shows up along the way.

It can be scary, painful and it’s ultimately challenging. But it’s also a great journey. And, here’s the really good news. It’s uniquely yours to make. Nobody’s potential, nobody’s contribution , nobody’s journey is exactly like yours. The Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, ” The path is made by walking.” Get going, keep moving and enjoy the journey.

Enjoy this little video from Owen Cook.


U15 – U18 Girls Soccer Training Group Starting Up Soon

The next training group for U15-18 girls soccer begins January 8. The groups are kept small to accommodate the individual needs of each player. Our group in Victoria trains on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:45 to 5:00 at the Victoria Recreation Center.

If you love to play the game, you enjoy the challenge of getting better and you want to take your play to a new level then consider joining us.

For nearly 15 years Kick-It! Training has been helping young players discover and develop their potential in a healthy, positive environment. Sometimes that means moving from C2 to C1 and sometimes that means taking their game to the collegiate level. But, it’s always about an athlete centered approach that works with the whole person. You can find out what our past players, their coaches and parents think here.

To get the details and sign up click here https://kickittraining.com/training/u15-18-girls-soccer-training-group/

Getting Better Together 


What You Can Learn From These Girls

 

As the club season was winding down last June one of the seniors in this  group sent me an e-mail asking if we could start training again to get ready for the upcoming high school season.

And so we put a group together, spread the word and invited a few of the sophomores and juniors to join us.

They wanted to put the emphasis on fitness and conditioning. So we did and it was a lot of hard work. They came to train even when it was hard and they could have been somewhere else. They worked hard and took workouts with them when they couldn’t make a session. And, they challenged and supported each other all the way through.

Two weeks ago they won a conference championship and last night they came from behind to win in overtime in the first round of the section playoffs.

Having a goal is important and then a good process to accomplish it. They brought the first and I provided the second.  But … what drives winning or performance is character. It’s what you bring to the process and into the arena that make the biggest difference.

It’s hard to run twenty 30/30’s in a workout. It’s hard to come back from 0-1 with less than 10 minutes to go. That’s where good stuff is though. And the real growth is not in a faster 40 time or bigger vertical jump but in the lessons we learn and the  ways we grow as people by stepping up to a challenge.

What was being formed in those days in July and August when they were working on strength or speed or fitness was really character. They have it in spades and it was fun to see them draw on it this week. Good luck going forward!

 


Becoming More Flexible

When people think of flexibility they often think of a gymnast doing the splits or a figure skater or dancer who can lift their foot over their head and touch their knee to their nose. That’s range of motion – the distance a joint can move between the flexed position and the extended position. But, its not the same thing as flexibility.
 In their book Fascial Stretch Therapy, Ann and Chris Frederick encourage the use of the online definition from Merriam-Webster for flexibility:  “characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements.”  Flexibility is about adaptability.
In a webinar with Human Kinetics a few weeks ago Ann and Chris pointed out how flexibility or adaptability draws on all the qualities we associate with athleticism; strength, power, speed, agility, quickness and mobility.
John Kiely, a leader in the strength and conditioning field and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lancashire refers to what he calls “robustness” or a wide variety of options in how an athlete adapts and responds to the demands of training or competition. When those athletic qualities are diminished through injury, fatigue, lack of skill or improper training we loose that robustness, have fewer options to choose from in our response the the challenges of training and competition and become more vulnerable to injury and underperforming.
Mobility is an important factor on that list. As Chris pointed in the webinar we’re talking about functional mobility, our ability move in order to accomplish a task.
Developing flexibility is about integrating all  those factors in an effective way. For example I worked with a collegiate volleyball player this summer who was strong in the weight room and had a better than average countermovement jump demonstrating power. By addressing hip and ankle mobility through a self stretching routine and Fascial Stretch Therapy sessions  and then incorporating specific plyometric training designed to improve elasticity and reduce ground contact time she was able to increase her block jump by over 8 inches. Working on her conditioning and agility she is better able to take that jump where it’s needed on the court and repeat it effectively throughout the match and adapt to the challenges of the game.
Good training produces athletes who are healthy, robust and  as Steve Myhrland has said, “ adaptable not adapted”. A flexible athlete may not be able to touch their palms to the floor but they move optimally in response the the changing demands of training and competition. How flexible are you?

Getting Better Together This Winter

Tired AthleteEvery athlete knows that in order to develop and make progress we need to be challenged. Whether it’s speed, strength, conditioning or agility we have to take ourselves outside the comfort of what we’re used to. In meeting the challenge our bodies respond and we get faster or stronger or more fit. It is important meet the right challenge in a healthy way so the response is positive and sustainable.

Three things that are helpful  in taking on a new challenge.

Coaching ~  Every athlete is one of a kind. We need the right challenge in the right dose at the right time to improve in a healthy way.  Experience and expertise helps coaches  recognizes the individual differences in each athlete and helps them focus on the right challenges in the right way to accomplish their goals. Training is work with a purpose, not just a matter of doing more or trying harder.

Positive Environment ~ Research has shown that young aIMG_0650thletes accomplish more, participate longer and feel better in an environment that is player centered and goal focused with positive relationships. Sounds simple but it takes conscious effort to create and sustain that environment.

 

 

imageConnections ~ There’s an old saying, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far stick together.” Training consistently with good partners can take you to some surprising places. A recent article in Outside Magazine reported that a team mate or friend to train with is more important than any app, device or program. Working together, over time some of  our athletes have accomplished some pretty cool things for themselves.

Our training groups aren’t classes. They are groups of young athletes working together in a positive environment with good coaching to grow, and develop in healthy ways to accomplish their goals and contribute to their teams. We have groups starting a new round of training in January. You can check it out HERE. It you’re looking for an opportunity to be challenged in a healthy way it might be a good place to start.


The Ecology of Youth Sports

FLOURISH: ( of a person, animal or other living organism ) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

iStock_000004353528Medium-1What if we thought about developing young people through athletics in terms of the ecology of it?

What if, rather than focusing on “producing” young athletes, we focused on how they grow?

We might pay more attention to the environment in which they grow. Is it one in which they can flourish? 

Research with high school age soccer players found that a young person’s well being in athletics was correlated with a high quality environment, one in which the young athlete felt that coaches were concerned about them as people first and athletes second. One in which the key adults were connected in a healthy network of support: school, club, coaches and parents. And, one that was focused on their long term development not short term or even intermediate term outcomes and results.
IMG_2998Ecology looks at, what Robin Wall Kimmerer calls ” the architecture of relationships.” Over the last few months I’ve been working in some new and interesting ways with coaches, parents and health care professionals and over the next month or two will be collaborating on some very cool projects. They didn’t start as “good ideas” but emerged out of conversations and the slower process of growing a relationship. Some of the projects will blossom and bear fruit, others will drop by the wayside. My hope is that the relationships out of which they are developing will continue to grow and flourish.

It’s really not that big of a stretch when you think about it. After all, success in every sport, even the individual ones, is a team effort. Or, as Dr. Wall Kimmerer reminds us, ” in nature all flourishing is mutual.”  DSCF1719


Prevention And Performance Are Only Placeholders

IMG_3016It’s easy to segment and divide, put things into categories. Injury prevention over here, improving performance over there. But, when it comes to preparing and developing young athletes the two really belong together.  Good physical preparation takes into account the demands of the game; the the type and nature of injuries involved, and the developmental level of the players.

Our high school girl basketball players are finishing up their pre-season training. We know their game requires them to change directions quickly, often and at a variety of angles and speeds. They need to be able to start, stop, jump, land and resist the force of another player. And, they need to be able to do those things often while performing another skill like dribbling, passing, catching  or shooting.  Players need to give repeated short bursts of intense effort and recover quickly. So they need a strong CP system to give those short bursts and a strong aerobic system to do that repeatedly and recover.

images-4When it comes to injuries, the most common ones are to the head ( concussions ) ankle and knee and we know that most of those injuries occur late in the half or the game when players are more likely tired and the intensity picks up.

Now, given that,  when assessing players or designing their training we can keep the big picture in mind, see the relationships between the demands of the game and injury patterns and work to address both. So, jumping and landing is not just about improving rebounding or shooting but about reducing the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries. It may even help prevent some concussions where a bad landing might have led to the head hitting the floor. Good technique and improved strength work together to improve performance and keep players healthy.

When we plan a conditioning program we have sessions where we  train short burst of 4 – 6 seconds and sessions where we increase aerobic capacity. With in each of those we blend the movements players actually make in a game like shuffling and cutting with running straight ahead.  Conditioning isn’t something we do for its own sake. The purpose of conditioning is , as Steve Magness said, to extend the quality of the performance. If we can help players move well and execute their skills at a high level through the whole game they are less likely to get injured and more likely to accomplish their goals and enjoy the process.

We can’t really prevent injuries any more than we can guarantee the outcome of a game. There are too many uncontrollable variables from the conditions of the court or field to the opponents tactics to just plain bad luck. But, we can reduce the risk by taking a holistic approach to developing young athletes; teaching them good movement skills, developing the strength to support those movements and the stamina to perform them repeatedly and well.

Categories like injury prevention and sport performance can be helpful as placeholders to analyze and learn. They are a way of looking at the same thing from different perspectives. In the end though we do better by the kids we serve when we see how they fit together and design integrated approaches that help our young athletes, stay healthy, play well and have fun.

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