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Some random thoughts on training the young uns

No session yesterday, but one tonight.

I’ll be doing a strength test with the teenagers tonight. Whenever I say things like that, immediately people climb upon their high horses. Why shoudl kids strength test, blah blah blah immoral blah blah strength training stunts growth blah blah.

Which is of course absolute bullshit, but for some reason is the accepted norm these days. All sorts of rumours abound about strength training, here’s a few snippets:

The “woman” issue: Doing full push ups is hazardous for a woman. It can damage their womb… I’m not making that up, and almost every woman who I’ve trained has expressed some level of concern about it. If you think about it, it sounds like rubbish, and it is. There is no reason why a woman can’t do a push up other than a lack of strength. Which is the same reason some men can’t do one.
Under 18s shouldn’t lift weights because it will stunt their growth: Now there’s some truth to this one in as much as there has been some evidence of growth plate damage in young men which arose out of heavy weight training. However on further examination, it has been found that BAD weight training, BAD form, incorrect weights etc. were to blame for the damage rather than weight training per se. In other words bad coaches and stupid kids in their Da’s garage lifting mad stuff. By the same token, millions of stupid kids have lifted millions of tonnes in their Da’s garage (me included) with terrible form and never had a problem. What is clear is that properly supervised weight training for young athletes is hugely beneficial. How can getting stronger be bad?

But that’s our culture I suppose, the other day I saw a kid, maybe 14 years old walking to school with a bag on wheels. Now maybe the kid had back problems, or was carrying his metalwork project in which was a solid gold phone, but I doubt it.

I heard something interesting froma soccer coach the other week, “we’re replacing the ghettos”. In other words soccer coaches have more work to do because kids don’t play on the street anymore. I would expand that to say that “We’re replacing an active life”. Some kids can’t do very simple things like run backwards, lunge, jump… yes jump. I think I’ve told some people the leapfrog story before but I’ll bore people with it here too.

About a year ago, I decided to play a relay game of leapfrog as a warm up. Simple, I thought, fun, great way to get them going. Wrong. Of the 20 or so kids in attendance, 2 could do an actual leapfrog jump over another kids back. Only 2 more had even heard of the game. I was stunned, I’m no old fogie surely? It’s only 20 years since I was doing this. Actually now that I write that it looks like a long time. In any case, it wasn’t that the game had died, it was that 18 of these kids couldn’t jump over another kid’s back leapfrog style. What did I do? I dedicated the entire class to teaching leapfrog. Screw this martial arts shit I said, I could start a revolution here. I’ll teach these kids, then they’ll tell their friends, who’ll teach their cousins, some of those will live abroad so soon the leapfrog craze will spread to England, then Europe, The Americas and beyond! That hasn’t happened yet, but what has happened is that 18 kids can jump over another kid with the use of their hands. Some of them still not very well but we started small.

As for the teens, thankfully I’ve had most of them long enough to drill all of those basic gymnastic movements into them, and they’re an active bunch anyway. Tonight they’ll be doing the very same upper body strength tests as the seniors would, with some small adjustments. They’ll probably do quite well too.


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