#PTonICE Daily Show – Friday, February 2nd, 2024 – Youth fitness athlete programs

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Fitness Athlete lead faculty member Mitch Babcock discusses developing youth strength & conditioning programs, including optimal timing & frequency, age groups, and training progressions.

Take a listen to the episode or check out the show notes at www.ptonice.com/blog

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And good morning. Welcome to the PT on ICE Daily Show. It is Friday, that means it is Fitness Athlete Friday. We are excited you are here. If you’re on YouTube, thanks for watching when you’re catching this recording back. And if you’re on Instagram, thank you so much for being here as well. Thank you to our listeners who are loyal and downloading this podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and anywhere else that you get your podcasts from. If I am talking to you on your morning commute, I wish you a great day in the clinic. And if you’re on your way home or anywhere else, I wish you a great day as well. So I am Mitch. I am your host of this Fitness Athlete Friday. I’m a lead faculty in the fitness athlete division. And I want to talk today about youth sport, youth fitness athlete programs and what you can be doing as a fitness forward clinic to really be reducing those injury risks that we all talk so much about in the youth athletes. Before we jump into that, I just want to draw your attention to two main fitness athlete courses that we have coming up for the month of February that we’re in now. On Super Bowl Sunday weekend, I will be in Richmond, Virginia. I was getting a little worried. My Detroit Lions making a once-in-a-lifetime run at the Super Bowl. I was getting a little nervous that maybe I did some scheduling error there. fortunate or unfortunate as it may be, they won’t be in the Super Bowl. So Super Bowl weekend, I will be in Richmond, Virginia. And I know what you’re thinking, I don’t want to take a course on Super Bowl Sunday. We’re going to get out in plenty of time early enough for you to go make it to your Super Bowl party and enjoy the rest of the weekend with your friends and watch the game. So if you’re in the Richmond area, join me there on February 10th and 11th. And then at the end of the month, February 24th and 25th, you can catch Zach, the Barbell Physio. He’s going to be at his home gym in Charlotte, North Carolina. for a fitness athlete course as well. And we just kicked off our next cohort of our Level 1 Essential Foundations course online, and so I wanna make a special hello to all of you that are starting the process of the CMFA certification online with us. We’re excited to do the next eight weeks together. We’ve got a lot of learning that we’re gonna engage in, so I’m stoked for that.

So without further ado, let’s get into our podcast today. Youth Injury Reduction Strength Training Conditioning Programs. Here’s what we know about injury risk reduction. The screening tools that we have been given, the systems that were promised to help identify and reduce risk of injuries, they’re no good. They don’t mesh out in the data. We have enough long-term studies now to be very conclusive that these movement screen systems that we think that we’re putting kids through to help reduce their risk of injury are in fact doing nothing to help actually reduce their risk of injury, and they’re no better than a coin toss oftentimes of being able to identify kids that are at risk. What we know conclusively in the evidence, and then we’re looking at now in adolescent athletes and also collegiate level athletes, is that the more that they’re engaged in a strength and conditioning program, that the stronger their legs are, the stronger their core is, many of these programs focusing on those two elements primarily, that the better they do at reducing actual risk of injury and the more prepared these athletes are for the demands of their sport, whatever that sport may be. And so when you think about the constraints that the youth athlete is under, oftentimes, and we know this problem exists, where these kids are involved in a one singular sport for 9, 10, or even 12 months out of the year, they’re hyper specialized into that one athletic arena. They’re going from practice to speed and agility camps to to sport positional specific camps. They’re constantly engaged in the demands and the domains of their sport and they’re doing way too much in that arena and they’re not doing enough either other sports or general physical preparedness. The GPP work that we know is the foundation for all athletic endeavors to be built upon.

So our pitch, our recommendation for our fitness forward clinics out there, and there are so many now that are branding themselves as being fitness forward, when you’re going out and you want to reach this next population, you want to get ahead of these injuries. You want to do something for that youth athlete. You treat their parents already in the clinic. You know that their son or daughter is engaged in travel volleyball, travel baseball, their competitive wrestler, football, whatever that may be. You know their kids, you know their families, and you want to put a program together that gets as many of those kids as possible in your clinic, in your gym, and really helps to teach the fundamentals of strength training. Right? Because if we can get these kids in and start to help educate their motor control patterns, help to instruct them on strength training, under the supervision of a doctor of PT who’s trained in the barbell, who’s trained in the dumbbell, in the strength and conditioning community like many of you are, and taking our courses now, there is no better instructor to take these kids under your wing and really lead them to where they need to go, which is learning the fundamentals of how to move their body in space, how to get stronger, and therefore how to be more protective against injury. Stronger athletes get hurt less on the field. And if we can start teaching these movement patterns at a younger age, that gives us such a better upslide for being able to instruct and progressively overload these movements over time. So what we need to be doing as Fitness Forward clinicians is setting up some sort of camp, setting up some sort of program. Maybe you have the resources to do it year long, that’s great. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you can just divide six or eight weeks of your schedule out to fitting in these youth sport performance camps. And you can do them at various times throughout the year. What we have found to be successful is doing a camp in the summer because they’re about to lead into whatever their fall sport is. That could be volleyball, that could be Football, I’m not even sure what sports going at that time if I’m being honest, but but getting them into that late summer Is a great time to run some sort of eight-week camp where you teach the fundamentals of strength and conditioning Keep it very simple.

My first point here is to keep it brief 30 to 60 minute classes are gonna be perfect 30 minute class if you’re just looking to instruct the strength component closer to a 60 minute class if you’re looking to do strength and conditioning together and Okay, so your choice 30-minute class is about what you’re gonna need if you’re wanting to instruct at least a strength movement Maybe a 60-minute window if you’re looking to add some conditioning in there, okay? Keep these programs at two to three days per week Keep in mind how much these kids are already training right how many times they’re already doing their sport specific work their speed and agility work there and They’re engaged in a lot of things already. If you can keep your program very precise during days of the week, maybe a Tuesday, Thursday, or we have tried like a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, whatever works for you and your schedule, two to three days per week, 30 to 60 minutes is gonna be ideal for these kids, okay?

Now, what age groups? You can’t just, we have had not great success by throwing kids anywhere from six to 14 in the same room together, right? The development of those athletes at various milestones throughout their development is so wide and so different that you’re not gonna have a successful class with that many different types of athletes. What I would recommend doing is grabbing kids from the nine to 12 group When they hit about eight, nine years old, they’re really development enough, they’re cognizant enough, they’re engaged in the sport, they like what’s going on. So if you can grab a group of nine to 12 year olds, and then maybe have another segment of like 13 to 16 year olds. I think those are two really good spaces where you’re getting kids at various ends of development, and you’re teaching them very different things. At the nine to 12, our strength work for them is really motor control. The stronger they get is really just more repetitions they’ve had doing that movement. And so we don’t really need progressive overload for that group, we don’t need barbell training precisely, but really bodyweight and dumbbell or kettlebell loads are going to be perfect for them. and use the load as the reward. So the key here is that, good job, Timmy. Your air squat is looking really good. Because it’s looking really good, I want to give you this dumbbell. Hold this at your chest. You’re one of the leaders in the class right now. Hold this dumbbell. Keep your squats looking good. So you’re rewarding good movement mechanics with load. In that 9-12 year old range, using dumbbells, using kettlebells to instruct your major fundamental movements, your hinge like a deadlift, your squat like a goblet squat, and a press, a dumbbell push press, overhead press, PVC pipe if they need a lighter load. You’re instructing that overhead full lockout position, you’re instructing a squat pattern, you’re instructing a hinge pattern. And for your older kids, your 13 to 16, if they have been with you and they’ve shown you some good movement patterns now, now we can start to add the barbell in here. Now we can say, good job on your air squat. Let’s go barbell front squat. Let’s go barbell back squat. Let’s go barbell deadlift. Let’s go barbell overhead press, strict, or push press. Team, if you don’t feel confident teaching those movements, please take a class with us this year. In two days, Saturday, Sunday, eight to five on Saturday, eight to five on Sunday, you’re gonna walk away being very confident in your ability to walk right back into the clinic, whether that’s with one person or 10 people, and instruct these movements that need coaching. Okay, so if you feel like that’s a gap in your game, it is so easy to sure it up. Just join me in a class, join Zach, join Joe, find one of the fitness athlete courses that’s in your area, and we’ll help you close that gap very quickly, okay? So that’s kind of your range of strength movements that you want to focus your energy on. If you’ve only got a class that’s two days a week, do one day squatting, one day hinging, or one day squatting, one day pressing, and just kind of flip-flop your order that you’re programming those in. For the younger kids, using load as the reward. And the last thing that I would, well, excuse me, I got two more things.

Teach the fundamentals of body weight movement. You’ve got to have these kids doing more push-ups. You’ve got to have these kids doing bodyweight lunging. You’ve got to have these kids doing some form of a pull-up. And that can be in the form of a ring roll if they’re not strong enough, or an assisted vertical pull. But these kids need to develop upper body strength and core strength, do more planks, do more lunging, do more push-ups, do more pull-ups. do a lot of them. It is so easy to teach them really well and give them to them for homework. Like not enough kids are doing that. And I run into this problem year after year with my teens program is that their ability to do a really sound pushup is lacking. And we can have the debate on generation after generation of how bad that’s gotten year after year. Ultimately, I don’t care. I don’t care to engage in that debate. What I care to engage is that what are we going to do with it now? And right now I’m seeing kids that can’t do a pushup. So add the push-up, add the pull-up, add a bodyweight lunge, a bodyweight plank. We need to develop some core strength and some solid bodyweight resisted movements. So keep them as a really good accessory movement to the foundational movement that you’re teaching that day.

And then the last thing, here we go, is adding your conditioning to make the lighter loads you’re using more challenging. If all you’re giving little Timmy is a light dumbbell or a PVC pipe, by the time I get them done with a 100 meter sprint and then they go back and do this movement, you’re going to see some more variability in their movement. By adding that little bit of conditioning, that little bit of metabolic or heart rate duress to the system, you’re going to start to see some changes in movement pattern that allows you to coach and improve. Which, guess what team, you can argue this all you want, but that’s exactly what they’re doing in their sport too. They’re getting their heart rate up, they’re running around, they’re crashing into their friends on the field or on the sport. Their heart rate is going to be elevated and we still need them to move well. So that’s what we’re doing in the gym as well. Get them on the rower, have them bang out a 30 second sprint on the rower and then get off and do their squats. Send them on a 100 meter sprint, come back in, let’s do some deadlifting now. right? Utilize that assault bike. Hammer out 10 calories as fast as you can. Get off. Let me see your vertical overhead press now. Utilizing the conditioning component first to make the load and the weight training that’s coming second even more Exposed even bring to light some of the deficits that they have in their movement And that’s really where they start to learn how to move soundly under the duress of the environmental constraints and in sport, right?

So teaching the foundational movements the squat the hinge the press and using them with lighter loads, dumbbells, kettlebells, with your younger group for motor control, repetition, and with your older group, emphasizing and adding in the barbell. Utilizing a 30-minute session of all you’re doing is strength work, stretching it out to a 60-minute session if you’re going to add some conditioning work in there, which I recommend you do. And then recognizing that, hey, when I add the conditioning component into the strength component, that’s going to really expose a lot of areas that I can coach and develop these athletes in. And through that process, whether you’re doing a couple eight week camps throughout the year, you’re getting them in maybe right after school, you’ve blocked off an hour for this at an after school hour or in the evening at the end of your clinical day, you’ve got this little camp. that you can run this. You’re gonna make a couple hundred bucks per kid, and you’re gonna get a room full of 20 or 30 kids in there. It’s gonna be lucrative for your business and for your staff that you’re getting in there to run that. So I really would highly encourage that these PT clinics that have the means, that you have the equipment, that you have the shared gym space, that you’re partnered up with a CrossFit gym right next to you, that you can talk to them about utilizing and running this camp through. I highly recommend that you start getting out there in the community. and helping these youth athletes prevent injuries, getting them stronger, and then getting them excited about working out. I mean, these kids are so stoked. The kids that we have in our youth programs, they can’t wait to come back to CrossFit. Their parents tell me all the time about how much fun they’re having. So, getting them excited about working out might be the biggest win overall. Yeah, if we can prevent a few ACL injuries, that’s great. But if we can get these kids excited at a young age about exercise and working out and not seeing it as punishment or something that they have to do, I think we’re starting to build a generation of kids that really look at exercise a much different way than maybe our generation has. So that’s the key points that I have for you today, guys. Thank you so much for joining. If you’re on the Instagram Live, I saw a few comments. I’m gonna circle back and read through those later. Thank you so much. But think about how you can implement that in the clinic. And again, if you have some weaknesses, if you have some gaps that you need shared up, jump into a Fitness Athlete Live course, and let’s teach those fundamentals that we need, and then get you right back out there to make a change in the community. Have a great Friday, have a great weekend, and go kick some ass in the clinic. See you guys. 

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