Dont Ask What College & Pro Athletes Do Ask What They DID as Children & Adolescents
Posted by Dean Holden at September 22nd, 2015
by Jack Blatherwick, 17 September 2015
Photo modified from: REUTERS/Eric Miller
What is athleticism? What must every young player develop in order to compete at higher levels? For the best answer, study these Adrian Peterson highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mItf5URwkk. That’s athleticism for hockey, not just football.
Speed, strength, quickness and agility are a good start, but the greatest athletes are the best COMBINATION of those pieces – not necessarily the best at any one. Combining them in training creates synergy of movement, but that’s not even enough to explain Peterson. The pieces must fit appropriately into the action of a game where competition dictates the need. This is athletic reactivity, and it should be added to training plans.
So, what does that mean for a young player who wants to maximize his/her abilities? The short answer is PLAY. Play other dynamic sports that feature speed, agility and reactions. Tennis, soccer, lacrosse, football and basketball are good examples.
Studying highlights of an NFL running back provides clues about developing athleticism … before college age? Consider that by the end of his first fall season in college, Peterson was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. So, for youth hockey players, it’s not important to know what he and other college or pro athletes DO once they make it. We’d really like to know what great athletes DID as children and adolescents to acquire such elite athleticism.
Peterson played football and basketball and sprinted on the high school track team. Was strength training part of his development? Certainly. But this is my point: Strength is just one piece of a diverse program. Speed is another piece. Basketball, tennis and other sports teach your Central Nervous System (CNS = brain and spinal cord) how to apply those pieces effectively in competition.
Think of athletic development as training the CNS. Practices in which skills must respond to competitive obstructions are better development of the CNS than drills that are totally laid out, like running or skating through cones, or shooting with a long, comfortable release. Explosive strength training, jumping or sprinting should also incorporate random obstacles at times, or unstable footing, because no sport has a more unstable playing surface than hockey.
Neuroscientists are discovering that diverse PLAY activities during childhood lead to accelerated motor development later during adolescence when the focus narrows to hockey. Specializing in one sport early might not challenge the CNS to the same extent.
During childhood and adolescence, to develop in the mold of Peterson, the stimulus must be broader than what you see in typical weight rooms. College hockey programs emphasize very heavy weight training. Your program to develop athleticism must be faster, more diverse and sometimes responsive to unpredictable challenges … like PLAY.
Reactivity is a learned quality, and your brain loves to grow from diverse challenges.
<In Real Estate, it’s “location, location, location!” For skill development and acquisition, it’s, “Neuroplasticity, Neuroplasticity, Neuroplasticity!” – DH>
Category: age-appropriateness, athleticism, brain, career counselling, creativity, decision training, deliberate practice, diversification, expertise, fundamental movement skills, growth & development, learning, LTAD, neuroplasticity, physical literacy, planning / periodization, play, practices, research, skill acquisition, Skills, transfer, Video