Aug 15, 2016
CORE Concepts
Patrick Bohn

To help your athletes be the best they can in their sport, they need fundamental movement skills. Today’s young people sometimes lack such skills due to sport specificity and less free play. That’s why a quality strength and conditioning program for high school athletes should include basic movements.

Rick Howard, MEd, CSCS*D, USAW, helped create the Youth Interest Group of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and recently wrote an article on this topic for the Association’s website.

Howard breaks the concept of developing youth athleticism into four principles, which he calls C.O.R.E. They are as follows:

• Context in which to apply movement patterns.

This principle is based on the idea that for young athletes to develop, the movement patterns they learn need to be fundamental rather than sport-specific. “The context in which youth, especially children, need to apply movement patterns should be developmentally appropriate,” Howard writes. “In proper context, therefore, movement patterns need to be fundamental in nature as opposed to sport-specific. This means that emphasis remains on developing and practicing proper movement patterns that lead to physical literacy.”

• Opportunities to develop proper movement.

No matter what movement patters you have athletes engage in, it’s critical that they have enough opportunities to develop that movement. While some of these opportunities will happen in informal settings, many will come through organized programs, which requires coaches to take into account the level of the athleticism the athletes possess. “Quite often sports serve as a vehicle for kids to engage in this physical activity,” Howard writes. “Coaches must be aware of this in order to incorporate appropriate levels of physical conditioning leading to the recommended amount of physical activity.”

• Recognition of the physical attributes that youth require.

Coaches also need to have a range of exercises that can help a young athlete develop. “As outlined in the NSCA’s Position Statement on Youth Resistance Training, coaches should incorporate a variety of exercises, a variety of training modalities, and variety itself,” Howard writes. “Coaches need to understand how specific training methodologies, such as core training, fit into the development of fitness attributes and fundamental motor skills.”

• Environments in which youth explore movement.

Finally, it’s important to consider the environment that young athletes are competing in. Many athletes quit their sport by age 13 because it’s no longer fun. Utilizing the other three components while being mindful of the environment being created is the best avenue to long-term success.

“Based on this data, it seems that it is important to create the proper environment for youth to develop athleticism while continuing to have fun,” Howard writes. “Emphasizing context, opportunities, and recognition within a youth-centered environment creates the proper pathway to the development of athleticism that will help youth achieve physical and psychosocial well-being throughout childhood and adolescence.”

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at High School Athlete Performance.

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