Quote of the week: "Power, I know what that is, it's what makes you fly." - Cameron F.
To start our second month off right we began training our young athletes to create power! I urge you to check out Dr. Greg Rose with Titleist Performance Institute, as he is leading the way in athletic development for juniors. TPI asked many of their best PGA professionals what it was that made them so good and the answers lead to some very interesting findings that ultimately lead to TPI's long term athletic development program. This is the idea of having kids perform age appropriate skills to maximize athletic potential before adding sport specific skill. With the same end goal in mind, we want to build the well rounded athlete before sport specialization comes into play and the ability to generate and use maximal power is essential to a solid athlete. Grinding hours of pitching mechanics into a child 3-5 years old doesn't make a lot of sense as they will inevitably go through a rapid growth spurt in which all of that muscle coordination that may or may not be there now will surely be lost, or at least very disorganized. So how do we go about teaching children at this age how to create power? Simple, we say throw/kick/hit this as hard as you possibly can! And what sounds more fun than that to a 5 year old? When Bo Jackson was a child he learned to create power by throwing crab apples at bullies. Although I don't condone this behavior, it is very interesting. People often picked on him for a speech impediment and he would throw apples at them in revenge. Bo once said "They thought they were safe when they would get behind a screen door" as he laughed. You can imagine apples slicing through the screen. We all know what an exceptional athlete Bo became and his example is not the only one that leads to the conclusion that power can be developed very early on. Bo is one example of mine but you can find many more including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the lecture linked by Dr. Rose.
At EP4Kids we began our power segment by throwing bean bags as hard as we could at a mat. I wanted to hear a big BANG when the bag hit the mat. With very little concentration on form (the only requirement being an overhand throw), the children wound up and slung the bags across the PIT. Very little emphasis was placed on anything but power. Form, mechanics, and even accuracy all took a back seat, and to the detriment of the PIT television, which was an unfortunate casualty.
A Little Science
Power is a function of force times velocity. Simply, power is the ability to generate as much force as fast as possible. A vertical jump, hitting a baseball, kicking a soccer ball, a hang clean are all examples of power. You can see how important this is in sport but you can also imagine how power helps outside of sport such as running up stairs or chasing your little ones (who are surely getting faster with all of this training). It is possible for you to become more powerful too. At Engineered Per4mance the amount of power you can generate is an important parameter that is tested upon your initial consultation via the vertical jump and rechecked down the road to ensure progression. Power is trained in adults at Engineered Per4mance with many great medicine ball drills, olympic lifting, TRX rip trainers, and kettle bells to name a few. This is one of my favorite parameters of fitness to address because simply it is the most fun to work on and correlates so well with athletic expression.
Remember to practice your new skills at home. Play catch, or more like dodge, with your little one as they rocket the ball as fast as possible. Learn from my mistake, take it outside or at least away from the television. On second thought, break the TV, I guess I'm cool with that too. See you next week!
If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Greg Rose's long term athletic development or the TPI juniors program check out the following presentation: