How To Train Your Kids

Children have a huge potential hidden in them, which needs to be carved out by meticulous efforts. They are like an empty bowl; which we can fill with anything we want. Like learning, training is also a continuous process. In this article, I will be focusing on “How To Train Your Kids” having age in between 2 and 12 years

While the formal education of a kid starts around 3-4 years of age, but they start to grab things from a very early age. For example, parents start to test their kids’ reaction by calling their names, by clapping, by showing them gestures etc. But slowly, as the kid grows up, parents stop this activity. Probably because they think that, now onwards, he will catch everything on his own. Which is not true. The initial growth years of a kid are crucial and must be given extra attention, especially in terms of their physical education.

Before we move to the “why” and “how” of training, we must be aware of the growth pattern of a new born child.

What is Growth?

It refers to observable & measurable changes in the body. Its assessment forms an important component of holistic evaluation of a child and it provides information on his/her overall well-being. 

To understand it better let’s focus on the graph below:

Neural Curve: This describes the growth of brain and the nervous system. Of the central nervous system, 95% is developed by about seven years of age. The shape of the curve suggests, early development of the nervous system will give children the opportunity to develop the movement skills of agility, balance, coordination and speed at the general training age. Fundamental movement and fundamental sports skills can, and should, be developed during childhood.

“WHY” should we train Kids:

In human body, central nervous system plays a crucial role. It consists of a complex network of nerves, which take signals to and from brain. Our body parts work only once they receive information from brain. Our reaction towards any stimulus would be as fast as the travelling speed of signal from brain to the particular body part.

This traveling speed of the signal, from the brain to the body parts, can be increased by continuous training of the kid. Our body develops new paths for the electrical signals to reach from source to destination in the minimum time possible. These paths can be developed through continuous and varied training. The more variety we bring in, in the initial ages, the better we get in our reflexes. It also improves our control on the body, our coordination as well as our decision-making ability

“HOW” to train your kids:

In general, we can broadly divide the training age of a kid in two spectrums. The pre-training age(2-7 years) and the training age(7 years onwards).

Pre-Training age:

During this age the kid simply learns and tries to control the basic movements. These basic movements are: Running, Jumping, Catching, Throwing and Kicking. During this period we must teach these basic movements to our kids.

Below are few steps in which we can teach them:

  1. Running: Kids love to run. Take them to playing area, encourage them to run. Play different games which include running or simply just ask them to catch you. As they grow, make sure they are mingling with other kids.
  2. Jumping: Show them how to jump. Kids are excellent imitators, they simply do, whatever you do in front of them. Start with jumping on the ground, hop on the spot and ask them to do the same. Give them a small hurdle and show them how to cross it. Encourage them to run for some distance and jump in a sand pit. If you are at home, let them jump on the bed. But make sure, you give them a safe environment.
  3. Kicking: Start with a light and big ball. Keep it near their foot and show them how to kick it. Gradually, ask them to kick a moving ball. Pass them the ball slowly and ask them to kick it. Play the passing game. All these activities will give them a good idea about the ball’s speed and direction.
  4. Catching: Start with balloons and gradually move to the light balls. Show them how to catch it with both hands and let them try the same. Slowly they will develop a sense, that something is approaching me, I must catch it. As they grow older, they will be able to decide, when to catch and when to dodge.
  5. Throwing: Similarly train them for throwing anything. Give them any light object and let them throw it. Give them small footballs or basketballs and teach them to throw it with both hands. As thy grow, show them how to dribble it. Dribbling is one of the best ways to develop the hand eye coordination.

Apart from these methods, try your experience too. Mix things up, make the same activities more fun by adding few twists. Kids are great learners, but they need change. We must add variation whenever we see they are getting bored. Discover new ways to teach them the same skill.

Training age:

This is the age to utilize the basic movements. There are several skills to focus during this age. For example, Speed, endurance, strength, power and agility. Let us see the below graph:

Skill Learning:  As per the above table, children have a huge window of “Skill Learning” from 6 to 11 years of age. It means, till the age of 11, children will learn any new skill very quickly. We must try and teach them as many new skills as possible. This will help in building good neuronal variability. This kind of training will make your kid sharper and stronger, not any popular sports drink.

Speed Window: Similarly, children have “Speed Window” from the age of 6 to 8. It means, their Fast Twitch fibres will be dominating and they will learn to run faster during this age. This does not mean that they will seize to develop speed after 8 years of age. It only means that speed will be the predominant factor from 6 to 8 years. This way, the kid will have an upper hand over the kids, who would not have utilized this window.

But, then what about Strength, Aerobic and other factors? These factors will also be worked upon during this age, but their actual focus duration will come in later ages.

So, this was the brief description about “How” you should train your kids and “Why” is it important. I hope you would have found this article useful.

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Pre-Workout Warmup

Before starting any workout, it is important to make our body ready for it. In order to do that, an effective Pre-workout warmup routine is a must. An effective warm up routine is the one, which mobilizes every joint and stretches almost every muscle of the body.

Stretches in a Pre-Workout Warm up are always dynamic. It means, we do not hold any stretch for more than 2 seconds. Throughout the Warm up, our body should be in motion. After the warmup, our body will feel light and free.

Let us see how does a perfect Pre-Workout warm up look in the below video.

Let us now talk about the benefits of warmup:

  • Improves blood circulation: A pre-workout warm up improves the blood circulation by raising the temperature of the body. This way your body feels ready for the physical activities.
  • Removes tightness from our muscles: Before starting any workout, it is important that muscles move freely. There should not be any tightness in them. So we can perform our workout easily.
  • Motor unit recruitment: Through warm up, we engage almost all the muscles in our body. This engagement of muscles, is termed as motor unit recruitment. This makes them aware that they are going to be used. It gives our body a sense of readiness for any activity.
  • Improves flexibility: An effective pre-workout warmup removes any kind of rigidity from our muscles. This reduces the rate of cramps too.
  • Prevents us from injuries: With the combination of above-mentioned benefits, warmup prevents us from injuries.

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Core Stability – Part 3

In this article,the focus will be more on enhancing the stability in our body. Once we master the exercises on a flat and little uneven surface, we can move on to next step. Now we further reduce the point of contact and introduce another highly unstable surface. These exercises will not only magnify the ability to stabilise our body, but also help us understand our body better.

This is the third part of stability series. If you have not read the previous two parts, I would recommend you to please read them first. It will give you an idea about the basics and importance of stability. Below are the links for both of them:

The two objects that we are going to use are Slant Board and Swiss Ball.

I first read about the slant board in the book “The Cool Impossible”, written by the world-renowned coach Mr Eric Orton. All the slant board exercises mentioned here are learnt from this book only.

Before performing the exercises, keep these things in mind:

  1. Perform these exercises barefoot
  2. Balance yourself on the ball of the foot
  3. Use your big toe to balance yourself

Below are three exercises with different foot placements:

  • Single leg-hold with uphill position:
  • Single leg-hold with downhill position:
  • Single leg-hold with forward position:

These exercises will work on isometric strength of your legs. These will make you more aware how your foot reacts to different positions. Especially when you are on your forefoot with heel raised.

Now we move on to some swiss ball workouts. Here we are talking about balancing our body on a swiss ball in different positions. These are few of the pretty advanced workouts and work superbly for your whole-body coordination. These do not work on a single body parts, but the whole body and help in enhancing the stability. We must be highly aware about the centre of gravity of our body which is the key to balance ourselves on a ball.

  • Four-point contact
  • Three-point contact
  • Two-point contact
  • Trying out different variations

Stability Workout – Part 2

This article will focus mainly on the core stability. Our core consists of 25 pairs of muscles and many of them are present deep inside the abdominal wall. They provide support and help us keep our body straight. In other words, core stability is the foundation for building a strong upper body.

If you haven’t read my first article on stability, I would recommend you to read that. It explains the importance of stable body and how it can affect our training for other fitness activities like agility, speed, and strength etc.

Read that article here:

Below are few basic exercises with which you can start:

  • High Plank hold: Maintain neutral spine position, keep your belly button tucked in and squeeze your glutes. This will make sure that the impact does not go to your lower back. It will also work as a good isometric strength workout for your arms and to some extent, legs as well.
  • High Plank side hold: Major focus shifts to obliques as they have to work harder now to keep the body straight.
  • Low plank: Focuses on same areas as high plank, with increased intensity.
  • Side low plank: Focuses on same areas as high plank side hold, with increased intensity.
  • Side plank knee drives: Further strengthens our obliques as we are now introducing a dynamic movement.
  • Naukaasan/Boat hold:
  • Poorna Naukaasan/Hollow Body  hold:

Please remember to do Vipreet Naukaasan/Opposite Boat hold after performing above 2 holds.

  • Ardh Halaasan/90 degree leg hold: This one looks very simple and easy, but trust me, it will burn your upper abs like anything.

Try these aasans/holds for 20 sec in the beginning and gradually move up-to 60 sec or even longer duration.

These are the basic holds that one should be able to perform before moving on to the advanced exercises to strengthen the core. You will realise, it is much easier to work on strengthening once you practice these holds properly.

Core strengthening is such a vast topic that I have written a different article to show you few advanced stability exercises, using some props like stability disc and swiss ball. You can read that article here:

Stability Workout – Part 1

Stability is one of the most important and often neglected aspect of fitness. It refers to the ability of our body to hold its constant position and control its movement. It is of utmost importance that we focus on stability before gaining strength or any other fitness ability.

All the smaller muscles in our body have the responsibility to stabilise it. We can train these small muscles by controlled movements. Whenever we plan to work on any fitness regime, it would be great if we first focus on small controlled exercises. Once we have enough stability in our body, we will be able to perform every exercise in a much better way. It will also reduce the chance of getting injured.

Below are few of the exercises which will help you gain the stability:

  • Single leg balance: Lift one leg and try to maintain the balance on another leg. The moment we lift one leg, the other one has to do extra work in terms of load balancing in order to prevent our body from falling.
  • Single leg balance with eyes closed: Closing our eyes, poses one extra challenge of being completely unaware of the surrounding. Our mind and muscles become extra aware and active to stabilise the body.
  • Single leg balance with body movements: In this, we purposefully give extra challenge to the body and gradually increase the movement rate and pattern
  • Taad aasan: Now we are gradually reducing the point of contact and increasing the challenge. Try this with closed eyes as well to further increase the complexity.
  • Taad Aasan on single leg:
  • Chair Pose leg reaches:

To further increase the complexity and intensity, we can perform above exercises on an uneven surface. For example, stability disk or even a mattress.

Below are few examples that you can try:

Although the primary focus of above exercises will be on lower body, but it will affect our upper body as well. Whole body needs to work in synchronisation, in order to be balanced.

In my next article, I will be focusing more on the upper body stabilisation.