In the first week of EP4Kids we focused our skill development on balance. One of our many goals with EP4Kids is to teach the children to move efficiently while avoiding dysfunctional movement strategies. To move efficiently you must first have control of your central body alignment, in other words, you must have balance. In most sports you will encounter different angles of terrain and it is important to be able to recover from these offsets with proper balancing strategies. Also, in contact sports such as football when a player takes a hit you must be able to regain central alignment and remain on your feet, or flip over the opposing player and land on your feet (see the video below). As you can see this is a great place to start with our aspiring athletes. We trained dynamic and static balance with the children this week using bean bag games. While balancing the bean bag on our head we become aware of our central alignment. Then we make the activity fun attempting to walk in all directions, spin, and even squat while maintaining the bean bag's and therefore our body's central position.
A little Science
As humans we use three systems of input to control balance, that is our vestibular system, our visual system, and proprioception. The vestibular system is a receptor organ located in the inner ear and senses movement in all planes. We use our eyes as our visual system to see changing terrain or upcoming obstacles. Proprioception is the sense of where our body is in space. We use tiny muscles throughout our body even in the soles of our feet to perceive proprioception. The input collected through these three systems is now transmitted to the brain, specifically the cerebellum which miraculously interprets all this information and responds with fine motor movement to maintain equilibrium. Unbelievable right? There is little more impressive than the human body. As you can see we have merely scratched the surface with balance training but we are off to a great start. In an upcoming week we will be training the different systems individually. Balance is key to unlocking athletic potential and simply leading an injury resistant life, so encourage your little ones to practice what they learned today!