There’s a misconception out there when it comes to kids and strength training. It’s not taboo.
University of Minnesota strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz has trained athletes of all ages, including collegiate All-America players, professional athletes and Olympians. Now he’s helping his 7-year-old son – but only because his son wanted to.
“Only when he wants to,” says Dietz, who works with the Gopher men’s and women’s hockey teams. “Are we lifting weights? Sure. But it’s so light. The bench press might be less weight than an actual push-up. There’s nothing negative about that.”
The American Society of Exercise retracted a statement it made in the 80s where strength training could hurt a child’s growth plates. That would only happen in a most extreme case, such as a gymnast falling from great heights. Kids simply can’t produce enough force.
Dietz notes that if a kid jumps off a couch and he weighs 50 pounds, that child may have 200 pounds of force on their bones. A kid would never be able to move that force with weights.
Start with a certified trainer or coach to develop exercises and a program suitable for your child. Always have supervision and safety as a top priority.
Benefits of strength training
The Mayo Clinic also supports the safe practice of strength training for kids as early as 7 or 8 years old, so long as it involves light resistance, quality movements and supervision. The Mayo Clinic explains some benefits of strength training for kids on their website:
Done properly, strength training can:
Keep in mind that strength training isn't only for athletes. Even if your child isn't interested in sports, strength training can:
Let the kids decide and make it fun
So, strength training can be safe and beneficial for your child, but that doesn’t mean parents should be forcing them to participate.
“I think it all relies in interest and what the kid wants to do,” says Dietz, who also owns XL Athlete. “Make sure it’s fun and play games. Make it enjoyable. Then you’re learning to train and learning what to do to set yourself up for future development if that’s what your goal is.”
When it comes to incorporating fun games, Dietz suggests little exercises that aren’t stressful. If it’s a real youngster, throw a balloon in the air and have the child keep hitting it at its highest point. Play volleyball or soccer with them. Then go back and do the high-quality work, which is where the real benefits are generated.
Make sure they’re having fun and enjoying the experience. After all, these are just kids and that’s why they participate in youth sports. Technique and skill are important, but if there is no desire, then you are wasting your time.
“The coach can’t be yelling and screaming,” says Dietz. “The kid has to try to produce that effort because they want to.”
Don’t pressure your kid into training for the National Hockey League. The numbers are heavily stacked against it. Instead, use safe strength training as a fun way to improve health, development and quality of life.
“Do you want to get your kid to the NHL?” says Dietz. “This country produces more neurosurgeons than it does hockey players. Let’s just create an overall healthy person. Sports aren’t that important, let’s be honest. However, sports do teach us some amazing life lessons. That’s where it’s important.”
It’s all about quality
Focus on the quality of training, don’t just try to wear them out.
“Any idiot can make a kid tired with a whistle. That’s not the goal,” says Dietz. “When the kid becomes fatigued they aren’t training high-quality motor movements and motor patterns. If the movement isn’t of high quality, you’re wasting your time. There’s no development there.”
When the world’s fastest humans train to become faster, they sprint really short distances and then they rest for seven or eight minutes. Then they do it again. It’s all about quality. That’s especially important for youth.
“There’s a time to get in shape, but it’s also about the quality of what you’re doing and making sure the kids are having fun,” adds Dietz. “The kids will play themselves into shape during practices.”
If the kid can’t perform a certain exercise, don’t push them.
“Everything needs to be about success here,” says Dietz. “If it’s a skill they can’t do yet, break that skill down even simpler and have success.”
Create an overall athlete
Don’t focus on hockey-specific exercises. Hockey practices and games will take care of all that. If kids focus on just hockey workouts, it can actually be harmful by causing injuries due to overuse.
The specificity kids get comes from playing the sport itself.
“Really, you want to train the non-specific skills a majority of the time,” says Dietz. “Then you make a holistic human. That’s what you want to try to do.”
By branching out and working on all sorts of different motor skills, you’re creating an all-around athlete from top to bottom. This also falls in line with USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which pushes athletes to play multiple sports and avoid early specialization.
What else does this improve?
“The biggest thing is brain development,” says Dietz. “By playing a lot of different skill sports, you develop the brain at the highest levels. Playing other sports – at least until you’re 17 or 18 – is of vital importance.”
The Eastview Hockey Association welcomes your feedback and encourages you to complete the end of season/tryout survey for this past 2012-2013 season. An email was sent to the primary email account used during the registration process. If you did not receive an email, please contact email@example.com. Your answers/feedback will be anonymous. The survey will close on May 4, 2013. The Board plans to review and analyze the results of the survey in May to help them plan for the upcoming season. Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete.
Coaches: A Level 4 coaching certification clinic as been scheduled for May 18-19th in St Cloud. If you have any questions regarding moving up from Level 3 to Level 4, please contact Steve Morse, Minnesota Hockey-District 8 Associate Coach in Chief. firstname.lastname@example.org. Level 4 coaching opportunities closer to the Twin Cities can be difficult to find.
Thanks to all of the candidates who offered their time and talent to serve on the EVHA board. Congratulations to the newly elected board members, David Leach, Jim Lombardi and Kelly Griffitts. In addition, David Kisch has been elected to serve another 3 year term on the board. Thanks to everyone who voted and a special thanks to Brandy Koster, Steve Johnson and Jeff Tuthill who spent many many hours helping strengthen the association over the last several years.
To cap off a fantastic season, the Bantam B2’s claimed first place in the District 8 playoffs by beating Rosemount in overtime 3-2. The Lightening advanced to the championship game by defeating Cottage Grove 3-1, Eagan 5-0 and Lakeville South 4-0 in their pool play. Against Cottage Grove, the Lightening played well, getting solid goaltending from Nic Leibold and goals from Ryan Oliveros, Bobby Harnagel and Jack Beren. In the second game verses Eagan, Zac Herro tended the net and blanked the Wildcats, while his teammates spread the scoring around with goals by Blake Carlson, Dylan Buck, Reese Orman, Logan Albrecht and Ryan Oliveros. In their final game of pool play Zac Herro subbed for an ill Nick Leibold and shut out the Lakeville South Cougars with goals coming from Jack Beren, Tyler Kukowski, Cullen Buck and Reese Orman.
The championship game played on Sunday March 17, (St. Patrick’s Day) against neighboring Rosemount, appeared the “Luck Of The Irish” was in full force, when the Irish struck first when a pass to the front of the Eastview net was deflected in off a shin pad with only a couple of seconds remaining in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. The Lightening continued to pressure and finally hit pay dirt on a face-off in the Irish Zone that Cullen Buck won with a shot right on net and Tyler Kukowski buried the rebound to knot the game at one. The Irish benefited again in the second period, when Eastview gave up a rare breakaway that lead to a goal and staking them a 2-1 lead. Eastview turned up the heat in the third period with shift after shift each line continued to pressure the Irish goalie but were turned away with several outstanding stops. With scramble in front of the Irish net, Jake Sodomka scooped up a puck that was blocked in front of the net, and on a nice spin-o-rama beat the goalie to his lower stick side to even the game at two. The Lightening continued to force the play and the ice was decidedly tilted in their favor, but late in the third period the Irish took advantage of an aggressive onslaught and came down on a two on one and getting a quality shot but Zac Herro came up big smothering a good chance. In the overtime the Lightening dominance continued with an unrelenting forecheck that eventually paid off. With a faceoff deep in the Irish zone, Tyler Kukowski won a crucial face-off to Cullen Buck who had beat his defender off the draw and found himself one on one with the goalie, and with a well placed backhand off the far side upper corner pipe he sealed the victory.
Coaches Nick Saunders and PJ Anderson stuck with a yearlong philosophy of rolling their lines no matter the situation and getting contributions and improvement from every player and were rewarded with a 33-5 record. Goalies, Nic Leibold and Zac Herro, provided a solid backdrop to a stingy defense which was reflective of the team 1.11 GAA allowing only 42 goals. The defense (Andy Moran, Josh Tindell, Danny Kapala, Bobby Harnagel, Will Hovde and Dylan Buck) rarely gave up clear chances and limited the amount of shots and rebounds the goalies need to handle throughout the year. The forwards (Logan Albrecht, Jack Beran, Cullen Buck, Blake Carlson, Tyler Kukowski, Ryan Oliveros, Reese Orman, Jake Sodomka and Jack Woehler) provided tremendous back-checking support as well as a balanced scoring attack that resulted in a 167 goals on the year, averaging 4.39 goals per game.
Congratulations to the players and coaches for a memorable year.