As my knowledge base has grown when it comes to human physical development over the years, I always realized how important physical activity was. However, only in the last little while, especially while preparing for our Athlete Academy for ages 9-12 this summer, have I realized just how important it is to kids. As I coach more and more kids and visit schools, I see things I honestly cannot remember from when I was younger. Kids don’t seem to know how to “play” and, consequently, they don’t seem to move well.
All those things we did as kids, without even thinking about it, are the things that helped teach us how to move well and be active. How many of you reading this remember there being as many kids as there are that don’t like being active? Kids that hate gym, that take no joy in it whatsoever? I understand that some of us liked it more than others, that some were better at certain sports or games than others. Maybe instead you enjoyed hiking, climbing trees, or riding bikes. Either way, you were active. How many kids do we see today that enjoy none of those things? I would wager a pretty healthy amount.
I believe this problem comes from a lack of confidence or enjoyment from doing active activities. A kid that hasn’t played and hasn’t developed some semblance of coordination or physical ability will have more trouble in physical settings and be prone to being embarrassed and not want to do it at all.
The flip side comes from the development side. I want you to think about something before you continue - which was more challenging, your 1st squat thrust or burpee? Or your 100th? (Not in a row, but over time). It is the 1st, right? Your body wants to work as easily and efficiently as possible, but it has to learn how first. This is why the first time you do an exercise it may feel impossible, but in repetition it begins to be less challenging. If children don’t move, play and experience different movements, even hiking or bike riding will be pushed away because they require so much more effort than they would for you or I who have experienced it over and over again.
If you live in a town or area that your kids can’t really get out and play, help them out - do fun things outside in the summer. Go hiking, run along the beach, go out back and play catch with different balls. Just help your child get moving in different ways. Whether they realize it or not, you will be helping them out for years to come.