A Year of Yes, Week 11: The Science of Training Young Athletes

This week I had to try something completely different as my schedule didn’t allow me a lot of free time. I opted to try an online course through Coursera which I could attend in between all of my other appointments which seemed an ideal plan.  I chose a free coaching class because I spend a lot of time with my two rock climbers practising their skills in the gym and at home so it seemed most appropriate.

There are different aspects to coaching and educating youths in sport and fitness that have been difficult for me. One, I think because I am “mom” that sometimes my opinion matters but the majority of time it’s frowned down upon. So how do I get my kids to listen to me? Two, kids should train in different ways from adults and I tend to think of my kids in a more fragile way maybe because I have always been in the role of protector. So what then is ideal for their age? Three, I’m not a climber so how do I know what they need to focus on, how to give direction and criticism and what are good exercises for them. How to help with a skill I’m unfamiliar with?

What I know about fitness I know from years of research for myself, working with chiropractors, healing from injuries, running and working as a sports massage therapist. I am not in the dark on all matters but could clearly use some guidance for my kids.

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 12.47.40The course is given by the University of Florida and taught by Dr. Chris Brooks. It was broken up over three weeks and each week there were three lessons to complete with about 30-40 minutes of short five-minute videos with quizzes at the end. I completed the first lesson quickly, took some great notes and passed the test with a perfect score. It took me another week to get to the second lesson, because life got in the way. I skipped my note taking this time and tried to really listen to the lesson. I passed the exam but just barely. Yikes! Note taking is definitely a better study plan for me as I tend to retain more when I write it down.

I was really surprised to hear about the decline in sports among adolescents. A staggering seventy percent drop their sport by high school graduation. I imagine it’s a combination of academic focus, wanting more leisure time and a lazier computer centric society. It’s so sad to me though. Being active keeps us healthy and makes us feel good. Sharing a sport with peers creates lasting friendships with deep bonds. It teaches us how to work together and to improve our own skills.

In the second lesson the focus was on when different aspects of athletic learning are ideal. I learned that not until the kids reach adulthood do they reach their full potential. That when the athletes are young like my two it should be fun and made into a game to keep them interested. This is something I am familiar with from working with my kids. If I offer them a game or challenge at the climbing gym, the likelihood of completing that activity and achieving their goals is almost guaranteed.

Thoughts on Coursera and online schooling? I found this incredibly difficult to want to sit down and watch. I really missed having interaction with others this week as a result of taking a course online. I understand that online learning helps many whose schedules won’t allow them to study in any other way. Because I had the freedom to pop on to the website whenever, I didn’t do it. If I had signed up for a class on Thursday from 10-1 I would have been there, taken notes and gotten more out of it. Have I answered the questions around coaching that I struggle with? Not really. Maybe had I completed the course I would have?

I am grateful for learning that online schooling is definitely not for me. I will seek to find education and activities outside of the home, immersed in the topic, learning amongst others.

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