T Nation

Jim, Into the Unknown. Training 2nd-8th Grade Girls?


#1

Jim,

Hey this is Jeff Roark. Been awhile since I’ve been on any boards. Pre-ordered your new book and looking forward to it.

I’m looking for a bit of advice on training female youth. The wife is our schools elementary basketball coach. We’re just a small private school with barely enough girls to make a team but we have killed some monster county schools and its left their heads spinning. We have a few girls that are strong and athletic, but alot that are simply not strong or explosive. Its amazing to me how many kids can’t even run or jump up on a piece of paper now a day.

The school has no equipment for strength and conditioning work so I bought them 4, 6, and 8lb medicine balls, and a Prowler. We have girls from 2nd-8th grade so, my thinking was would be the best purchases. We already have jump ropes and blessed with plenty of good stairs and a chinup bar.

So, have you dealt with anything like this and these age ranges? If so, if you have the time, could you please give me some guidance on how you approached this? We plan on doing strength and conditioning for them only 2x per week. The wife is going to work on skills until I can get to the gym after work.

Thanks for all the knowledge you have shared over these years. This is new territory for me and I want to hear from someone that speaks truth and that I trust.- Jeff


#2

I only work with younger males, but females/males are the same species and according to recent findings by women’s studies majors, there is no biological difference between men and women.

As for what to do; I don’t really know because I’m not there and can work with them on a day/day basis. Generally speaking, I try to get the kids to bodyweight squat, do push-ups, jump on a box and long jump and run. Throwing the med ball (total body; don’t be one of those idiots who does “handclap push-ups or seating med ball tosess”) would also be on my list if I had the balls (Hey-O!!!) and the space/help. I would recommend total body overhead forward/backward and total body chest pass: once they get the hang of these, they should get off the ground during/after each throw.

If they can’t do push-ups, do them on an incline. If they can’t squat correct, put them on a box; this is all real simple shit any coach can figure out. Generally speaking think about it like this: if you can get them to squat, jump, run and have enough coordination to “link” their body with throws, you are well on your way.

Do NOT have them do a ton of movements; they are physically stupid. You know the schmo’s that try to “confuse the body”? Well, they are fucktards. The kids have to learn how to jump/run/squat/throw correctly so don’t start doing weird shit until they master this.

I see you have jump ropes; this is great. Just be a little wary of jump rope volume due to shin splints. Also, understand that you don’t need to spend 90 minutes doing some silly “I’m a fucking Navy SEAL” workout. Don’t teach a million things in one day; in fact, we generally start with some kind of jumping, rolling, movement as a warm-up. Then we do two “movements” supersetted; have them get the hang of squatting and push-ups, for example. And then you can do some running/jump roping or whatever.

Once you teach them this stuff and they get the hang of it, you’ll be fine. We generally use DB’s (for squats), boxes to jump on, boxes to squat on (if needed), some place to do incline push-ups (if needed) and a place to do long jumps, movement, etc.

Granted these kids are in 7-8th grade. I have no idea what I’d do for a 2nd grader other than send him home because I wouldn’t want to coach them. Sorry man - no idea about that age. They should be out playing or mowing lawns or whatever.

Good luck. Be patient, don’t treat them like “kids” or rather “babies” and don’t let one shithead bring the others down.


#3

I’m not certified or anything, but I second this. I do summer camps for kids with disabilities and such, and to “train” kids below ten I just play with them. Have them run, throw, and jump, but not really any pushups, pull ups, etc. Just go to some monkey bars and shit and play with them. They’ll love having fun which will transfer into loving fitness which will in turn transfer to LIVING fitness. Good luck man, and good on you for trying to train todays youth


#4

I echo these statements. I am a PE teacher, and while I mostly coach older kids (male and female), I have taught elementary school kids and currently run basketball camps from age 8 up.

Make it fun. Incorporate games any way you can. Kids will bust their tails if is a fun and/or competitive game.

Don’t talk much. I used to let a kid set a timer for one minute. He/she would warn me at thirty and forty-five seconds. Give them quick instructions.

Rotate activities every 5-10 minutes. Alternate between easy and difficult.

Have fun.


#5

We set up a fitness circuit to start every class. We had a cone in each corner of the gym. We attached a movement card to each cone. They had to complete the movement at each station. Some were stationary, like “complete X push-ups and skip to the next cone”. Others were about various types of movement, like to hop, skip, jump, sprint, or shuffle to the next cone.

We would add in some modifications to begin teaching auto-regulation. Like, if you can’t complete ten push-ups, do five push-ups. If ten push-ups are way too easy, try fifteen, etc…

Put some Kidz Bop on (maybe get some ear plugs for yourself) and you can knock out a huge part of your fitness component in ten minutes.


#6

Thanks Jim for the reply. First off, I should clear up the 2nd grader thing. I was just stating we had that age range for our teams. We are only going to allow the 5th-8th to do this program. I agree, they should just be out playing and try to get the ball to the rim when they shoot.

I think this is going to be a good experience for me as far as coaching and even improving my training. I’ve done some box jumps along the way, but not many. This will teach me how to use the throws and jumps to improve myself.

I want to be able to get some measurements as to where they are and then set reachable goals for them to progress to. From there we’ll develop some standards that we want them to obtain.

The one thing that I do dread is trying to get them to enjoy hard work. I trained 2 young men a few years ago and I swear I wanted to kick the crap out of them. There is nothing worse than trying to push someone to improve themselves.

Thanks to Jim and the others for the replies.


#7

I’m going to say one thing about kids now. Going to these games and seeing the shape that some of these kids are in is unreal. It sure does make me appreciate my two. My little girl just stands out in the crowd. She is in shape, explosive and fast. She is only in the 5th grade but plays on the 7-8th grade team too. So you young guys on here, when and if you have some kids, keep them active and feed them good wholesome grub. You’ll be thankful that you did.

My daughter got wired up right.

Some good solid strength and conditioning and she’ll be a handful. Hopefully we can bring the other kids up to her level.


#8

This is my policy regarding people/kids who don’t want to work…ready?..I don’t even look at them, let alone coach them. My time is the most important thing to me. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, bar none. I do not even acknowledge the jagweeds and the fuck-arounds. They get NONE OF MY ATTENTION because my time is better served by helping others, watching TV, having sex, playing guitar, listening to “Under the Sign of Hell” by Gorgoroth, etc.

I only give direction/guidance to those that deserve it.

Too many people treat others like fucking infants. You coach, you have expectations and you hold them to it. If not, the morons run the show and you might as well not even be there.


#9

Trust me, there won’t be any coddling. They’ll work or get out of the gym. It just pisses me off inside that some will not give effort when you are giving them one of the greatest gifts ever. They can’t see the confidence and real self esteem that is hidden in hardship/work. Kids now need every drop they can get.

The two football players I worked with for awhile, and then I’d had enough. Told their dad’s that they didn’t have what it took. One of them actually found his balls later and got a scholarship to a small college.


#10

This is why I will retire from teaching as soon as I can.


#11

Idk We’re talking about kids. My dad had a video camera attached to his head for most of my life. When I’m forced to watch it, I don’t even recognize the kid on screen that shares my name.

My son has always been low energy and very low muscle tone. He was never the typical boy running around jumping off of or breaking stuff. He detests anything requires effort, and I am the complete opposite so not the environment he’s grown up in. He’s tried every sport there is and he doesn’t like any of them. I made him play a few years of t-ball and baseball, just because every boy should know how to throw, catch and hit a ball. I let him quit after I knew he wouldn’t be embarrassed in gym class.

My rule is my kids have to do something physical, they choose. He’s down to soccer. I give him and one of his sisters $1 every time they workout. He’s opted to run hills with me this summer instead of going to the summer kids program during the day.

my point is, they’re kids. You can’t just say fuck it, they don’t want to learn or try. I drive my kids to be better in every part of their life. That’s my job as a parent. If you’re a paid coach or teacher, you’re getting paid to help them improve. Seriously, the kid that’s not trying, that’s the kid you’re earning your keep on. If you can’t handle it, don’t wait for retirement. find something else.

I would probably have the same attitude if I weren’t the father of my son. The kids that lack motivation would drive me. I’m consonantly looking for ways to motivate and inspire him.


#12

They’re not going to try, so I’m not going to try. Does anyone else see the irony there?


#13
  1. I don’t get paid. This is volunteer work for my community.
  2. The kids/families don’t pay ANYTHING; again volunteer.
  3. There are 50+ kids and 1 coach.

The irony is that you aren’t a coach and you are telling others your opinion about how to coach. Unbelievable.


#14

I know you volunteer. I specifically referred to a paid coach and/or teacher. If you’re not, then my personal opinion on an anonymous forum should matter even less.

It was the comments about being pissed that junior high kids aren’t motivated or grateful, and that someone can’t wait to get out teaching because they’re not. They’re kids. Maybe I just hung out with slackers, but we were all challenging in JH/HS.

My parents, a few teachers/coaches/employers didn’t let that slide with me. I’m glad they didn’t. No one person was responsible for flipping the switch, but I believe they all contributed to me eventually finding discipline and internal motivation and purpose.


#15

I don’t see how this helps at all really. Everyone who began lifting lr training or whatever started because they wanted to. No money involved no prizes, nothing. Just the pursuit of strength or muscle. Not trying to tell you what to do, but that may come to bite you in the ass at some point


#16

You could be right. I’m just winging it. He’s a really good kid, but damn near impossible to motivate (or punish), because he just doesn’t really care about what your offering or taking away. He’s always been that way. Teaching him to ride a bike damn near gave me a stroke. Anything that requires physical exertion is a challenge.

Letting him be a sloth this early in life would be a disservice, the same way letting him not do homework or his reading would be. I’m not going to give up and I hope his soccer coaches don’t, even if he is the lazy one on the team.


#17

My kids get $5 for every novel they read. My son hates to read fiction. He doesn’t like fiction. My wife and I recognize how it will help him in life, but aside from Language Arts assignments, it isn’t something he has to do.

Simply telling kids why something is good for them is often the quickest way to get them to not do it.

Obviously it is different with athletes participating in a voluntary sport. Coaching them is fun. I earn my money by finding ways to get the kids that hate physical activity moving.


#18

That’s not possible.


#19

dhickey,

I’m like Jim. totally volunteer no pay received. my time and my money since I bought the equipment out of my own pocket.