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So yesterday Dr "Jamel" and I got together with the wives and kids and just hanged out at the Stevenson house. I have a 2 year old boy named "Jam-Jam", Dr "Jamel" has a 3 year old boy named "Pablo". While the kids were playing and the wives were in the kitchen baking brownies (I'm just kidding), I told him about the articles I was writing here on armchairgm and some of the comments back that I have been getting. I told him about the "parent one and limiting such young kids to one sport" article I wrote, and his comment back was, "Don't forget about the coaches, this one jack-ass coach had this 9 year old boy maxing out on squating and the kid hurt his low back. What a fackin douchebag!"..........
The following is the summary of our discussion.
Apparently, some coaches out there feel like it is necessary to have 9 year old boys lifting weights. Bench pressing, deadlifts, cleans, squats, arms, shoudlers, back, etc, etc, to build muscle, become stronger, become faster, and dominate the other opponents. Some coaches today, and also I'm sure some parents, are bringing kids into the gym at earlier and earliey ages, and making them perform like they are body builders. I go to the gym very frequently, and while I'm in my own world there, I have seen extremely young kids doing some pretty ridiculous things. Why in the world does a 9 year old boy have to start bench pressing with a barbell? With his back resting against the bench, I've seen an adult male yellling (he called it motivating) an extremely skinny, short, young male to "push it", seeing this kid trying to push up 95 lbs, ONCE! Once! Once! A 9 year old boy maxing out on bench pressing?! His coach, or dad, or whoever he was, then lowered the weight and made him do sets of 5 reps or less. They then moved on to squating and did the same thing. Afterwards, they went into the basketball court and started doing specific basketball drills. When I see this I just shack my head, turn up my ipod louder, and finish my workout.
Now, we both went on the record saying that we don't think lifting weights is entirely a "stupid idea", even for 9 year olds. It really isn't a problem if you want young boys and girls doing "resistance" training. Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges with no weights or light dumbbells, exercises like these are great for young kids to learn and start developing. "Core exercises" are amazing for youngsters as they focus on working the inner muscles, along with developing proproiception and balance skills. Working with a physioball, Bosu Ball, balance/wobble boards, jumping rope, are all excellent ideas for very young athletes. When I was around that age playing hockey my coach use to make us run up and down the stairs of the arena. We also worked on sprinting skills, pylon running skills, threw tennis balls against the wall to practice hand-eye coordination, stuff like this. All great "close chained" exercises to help in the development of our nervous system and coordination. Close kinetic chain exercises, which are exercises performed while weight-bearing (standing for example), are all great exercises that are very appropriate for young athletes IF performed with light to no weights. On the other hand, open kinetic chain exercises, which are exercises performed NON-weight bearing, (such as bicep curls, benching, hamstring curls, etc), just aren't appropriate OR USEFULL.
The number one thing that ALL people have to do BEFORE starting to work-out at a gym is to decide what their main purpose and goals are. Are they there to lose weight?, build lean muscle?, body-building?, strength train? athletics?, what? Why are they there!? Body builders DO NOT train like strength competitors train who do NOT train like people who are there to lose weight who should not train like athletes. So why are these coaches and/or trainers and/or parents training their 9 year old kids the same as body-builders? Why the hell is a 9 year old on machines? Machines weren't built for the size of a typical 9 year old, Why the hell is a 9 year old benching with a barbell? When is a 9 year old while playing in their particular sport going to be pushing something away from their chest while lying down with their back supported? Back on a physioball with dumbbells would make more sense if you want to go the weight way. Why the hell does a 9 year old have to max out? It's stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. If you want to start teaching young kids how to lift weights, for the love of god, use dumbells, use light weights, and focus strictly on proper lifting techniques so when the time is right they are trained and can handle to increase in weights. And then when they start lifting make sure it's specific to their sport!
Another friend of mine, we will call him "Dee", coaches soccer for 10 year old boys. He actually makes them play baseball sometimes. He also makes the play street hockey- teach them another way to learn how to focus on a ball near their feet on the ground. It's great! They do fitness and training but everything they do is close kinetic chained resistance using their own body strength. And he hammered mechanics. Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics, mechanics! Doesn't this make more sense?
I know there are a lot of GREAT coaches and trainers out there. However, there are also a TON OF CRAPPY ones! Don't let your kids be trained or coached by an idiot who could end up hurting them. Don't do it. Don't allow it. Just don't.
Play safe. Train safe. Be smart. Train Smart.