Now, hear me out here, because I’m just wondering about something, and I’m hoping I can get some other opinions on the following…
To begin, a few seasons ago I had a young player who demonstrated a ton of physical shortcomings — I’m talking some serious motor-skill problems, and mostly things that I suspected as genetic. (It’s also quite possible that for some unknown reasons he missed-out on certain critical periods in motor learning.)
As an FYI, I would say he was 12, 13 and 14-years old during the years I worked with him.
Actually, over those 3 seasons, the boy, his parents and I managed to lop-off a number of coordination issues, with most of the lad’s gains made at home and in my off-ice training center, The MOTION Lab.
As examples of the things I had him work on… He rope-skipped a ton (as do all of my players), and I had him do lots of balancing and proprioception work, especially on inflatable disks, on a teeter-totter, and on a mini-trampoline. To improve his sport vision, I had him wear an eye patch over one eye at a time — while catching a ball and bouncing on the mini-tramp, while doing some simple juggling movements, and while dribbling a ball or puck on the trampoline. Again, we made some nice headway in those areas.
However, there was always one thing that truly bothered me, it was something I wasn’t quite sure about at the time, but it’s something I’m thinking very, very seriously about right now.
That boy, like lots of others I regularly see, seemed to have a serious problem with his strength. Not that he was small or really weak (actually, he was decent sized for his age). But it was more like he — or his body — didn’t really know how to generate strength or deal with the slightest resistance. (I can still see his legs tremble as he did some pretty simple exercises.)
So, what I’m wondering about right now is whether a very basic weightlifting program might benefit such kids (or maybe all kids). Not that my aim would be to have them lift seriously, or to put on added muscle.
To understand what I’m getting at, perhaps adult members could envision a time when they readied to lift something rather heavy — be it a barbell in the gym, or a piece of furniture or equipment at home or at work. Picture what you initially did… You likely adjusted your body position and your grip, and you likely did that a number of times before you felt ready to give that heavy weight a serious try. To me, there’s some learning going on there — as we adjust and re-adjust to the expected resistance.
Can you appreciate what I’m getting at here? I mean, I have a sense that younger athletes would gain by just learning to address resistance, be it in the form of a very lightly loaded half-squat movement, in a few Olympic lifts, or in some other full-body movements. Again, I wouldn’t be aiming to make the kids bigger or stronger, and I probably wouldn’t use anything heavier than an empty bar. But it is that sense of addressing some resistance — and learning to adjust the grip and posture — that I think might help a lot (if not all) young athletes.
All that said, I would love to hear other opinions (especially if we have some members who are truly knowledgeable in this area).