4 Games You Should be Playing with your Children for Athletic Development

Being a parent of a child who plays competitive sport is extremely tough and can often lead to the parent asking themselves the following questions:

Are they in the right sport?
Are they with the right team?
Are they with the right coach?
Are they training enough?
Are they improving?

This is where my advice gets a little tough for parents.
If you are leaving every little aspect of athletic development to the coach, you are doing your child a disservice.

Your child might see your coach twice a week, 3 times maximum for most youth sports. So that’s a total of 2-4 hours per week with the sports coach.
Compare that to the rest of the week and there’s a lot of time to forget good habits…especially in an Xbox/snapchat/texting world.

Below is a list of 4 games that I believe will help with youth athletic development without meaning you have to study to become a coach yourself.
I’ll also explain why I chose these games and the skills they will improve.

Bulldog/tig: 🐶
This is a game I play regularly with my younger son’s football (soccer to some of you) team. It’s a great test of true agility as the child responds to a stimulus, in this case a child trying to catch him/her,  by taking evasive action to avoid being caught.  The stimulus isn’t predetermined, meaning there isn’t a pattern to follow so it becomes a true test of agility. 

One last thing, speed ladders or running to various cones in a predetermined pattern does not improve agility. It may improve dance moves though 🕺🏻

Twister: 🔴🔵

Yep, that game we all played in the ‘80s when we were a little more flexible and probably a lot more coordinated.
Possibly the most basic way of improving iso-metric strength whilst not making the child think they are doing ‘gym work’.
A good example of iso-metric strength is a plank. But, in Twister, a better example would be to have each hand and each foot on different colour spots whilst waiting for your next turn.
Unconvinced? Ok, get yourself in the position of the highest part of the push-up. Now hold for 20s. Next, move one of your arms 3 inches forward. Now, lift you left foot up…..getting tough?  Core strength, coordination, proprioception, stability and mobility are all tested here. 

Climbing: 🧗🏻‍♀️

As a parent, I’m totally to blame for sounding like my mum when it comes to my kids being exposed to the slightest of danger.  “Don’t climb up there!”,  “That’s too high!”.

But, we should allow our kids to do some level of climbing.  Walls, climbing frames, trees, things we all did  growing up and maybe got a little scratched knee or elbow from it.

Climbing is primitive, it’s like we all start with this urge to climb stuff. Toddlers see stairs and have to conquer them, infants see slides and race to get to the top, so we should encourage safe climbing.
Grip strength is a big indicator of overall strength.  As well as core strength, mobility and proprioception. 
Surely a strong child is a healthier child?

Running up hills: 🏃🏻‍♂️

A great, easy and cheap tool to use to improve sprinting mechanics and acceleration.
Encourages a positive shin angle (important with acceleration) which helps to improve ground force into each stride and a forward lean in the sprint.
Sprinting uphill forces the child to run in this way so it’s even easy on coaching cues.
With kids, I find the less cues given the better, just introduce activities where the child can learn them in a more organic way.
Keep the number of sprints here relatively low.  As soon as the child starts to slow down, go and play something else that isn’t as taxing. 
Good movement patterns aren’t made in a fatigued state.

With all the boring explanations put to one side, these 4 games are fun, easy to set up, and don’t need a lot of coaching.
Your child’s coach will thank you for it. ✋

Can You Train With an Injury?

Whether you are an extremely active person, a moderately active one, or your heart rate only goes up when you reach for the remote.  Everyone, at some point of there lives, with varying degrees, have had an injury.

Quick side note: this isn’t an injury claim feeder page….and if you’re one of those people who ring me 8 times a day asking about my car accident I had recently….politely f**k off!!

Now, with injuries you can approach your recovery in two ways, have complete rest until the injury has healed or work around it with training at an appropriate level.

In this article, I’m going to explain why doing the latter will reduce recovery time.

First, lets define ‘training’ and what it should look like.

Even though the traditional bro splits would have you believing differently, your body is one whole living unit. We’re not split into pecs, quads, lats and calves etc.

Also, injury is a stress, so your body will need to focus on recovering from that. Intense training will give the body another stress to recover from.
The body copes with stress amazingly well, but you have to limit how much you stress your immune system as too much will slow recovery down.
We must have the right balance so optimal recovery can be made.

Think of it as trying to cook two meals at the same time, one in your kitchen and the other in your neighbour’s kitchen (stay with me). 
If you have the flames turned up full in both you have no chance of paying enough attention to either and they’ll be ruined.
Turn the heat down, however, and you will be able to look after both much better as you’ve decreased intensity.

The same goes for training around an injury. Adjust your training to lower stress so your body doesn’t slow down with its recovery.
Increase the training stress, you won’t get the full benefit of muscle or strength increase; or a speedy recovery.

This will mean that if you are recovering from a knee injury, you can’t still max out on your bench and expect your injury to recover quicker.

How to adjust training

First, think of what exercises you can do using different muscle groups (not too heavy, remember)

Second, what exercises can increase blood flow to the inured area. This will help speed up recovery (but, as before, not heavy work. Think lighter with more reps)

For example, knee pain? Try terminal knee extensions (TKEs) with a resistance band, sore elbow? Try some light tricep extensions.

With a little research you can ease a lot pains.
In the same breath though, if something is painful and just doesn’t get any better…GO AND SEE A SPECIALIST.

✌️💙💪

Why Kids SHOULD be Strength Training!

Already, I feel some of you taking deep intakes of air through clenched teeth
"Let kids be kids", "You'll damage them", "You'll stop them growing!".

The myth of resistance training for kids being bad is one that needs to die out, along with your face sticking that way if the wind changes and saying 'bless you' when you sneeze to stop your soul escaping.

So, why is strength training for kids such a controversial topic?
Here are some of the most common concerns which parents (or just people who like to be offended) have on the subject.

  1. Growth stunt

    There is actually zero evidence that backs the the claim of growth stunt in children due to resistance training. There were a very few studies in the 70’s and ‘80s which reported negative effects, these were eventually proved to be due to bad technique and going too heavy, too often. 
    Lifting in a controlled environment didn’t hurt kids; bad technique hurt kids.
    This was the summary of this study:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445252

  2. Lifting will make my child move slower and more bulky -  Ok, lets explain this one quickly and in a simple way.

    Let’s think of sports where physical speed is king:
    100m sprint - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.

    American football (receivers) - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.

    Olympic weightlifting - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.

    Gymnastics - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.

    Strength training doesn’t slow you down. Strength training creates a foundation to express more power.
    One of my favourite strength quotes is: "You can't fire a canon from a canoe!"
    Meaning, without a solid, steady foundation, you can't have full expression of power output.
     
  3. Increased risk of injury - My favourite. There seems to be a real problem seeing kids pick up and carry kettlebells, pick up dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls….all things that are DESIGNED to be picked up, by the way, but the same parents don't seem to have a problem with kids giving piggy back rides, play fighting, climbing walls, or playing contact sport. 
    A carefully organised resistance programme is actually reported to REDUCE the risk of injury in youth sports. As reported in this study: 
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20547668/ 

    Lifting in a controlled environment, with a knowledgable coach doesn't hurt kids.....bad technique and old fashioned 'character building' beasting sessions, hurts kids.

    Summary
    PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD, with the emphasis on PROGRESSIVE, is a key principle of strength. Age doesn't change the principle, only the application of it.
    Parents must take responsibility to be well informed when making decisions on their child's sport participation.  This means more than just reciting old myths that have no substance.

 

 

Why You Should Be Adding Meditation to your Training Programme

Now, when you hear meditation, you might think of Ace here in the main picture  

🧘‍♂️

Instead of thinking you have to be sat on a mountain top or beside a waterfall, all you really need is a quiet place

You could:

🛌Take a few minutes to sit in silence before getting out of bed

📺Don’t turn the TV on as soon as you go downstairs

🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️ Book some afternoon time, whilst the kids are at school, to do nothing for 10-15 minutes

In a time where our days seem to become busier and busier, it’s important to remember that chill time is needed and should be a part of your day too

So today, I want you to start with finding 2 minutes in the day….yes you DO have 2 minutes…and I want you to switch off the TV, put your phone on silent and out of reach, close your eyes let your mind wander and just breathe 😌

If you can manage a little longer, even better.

Struggle to relax? Try the headspace app. It’s something I’ve used for years, more so when I’m feeling anxious about something or I’m not getting great sleep.

Here’s the link: https://www.headspace.com 

There are plenty of studies showing the benefits of meditation, like this one:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17823597

…and a rather lengthy study found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118731/ 

So, put your phone down and have a break 😇

 

Honesty in 'Fitness' is Dead!

....and I 100% mean this.  Think I'm kidding?  Go to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and count how many people are telling you they live the perfect life; how many 'death by selfies' superfood pics do you see? How many memes do you read telling you to 'Train till it Hurts' (the single most dumbest thing I've heard btw) 
I'm gonna put myself out on a limb here and say that around 90% of these 'inspirational' posts or people who portray the perfect life make you feel like shit! Because they're not inspirational!  
You ask yourself, "I wish I had the commitment to only drink wheatgrass smoothies, eat quinoa salads and spend 6hrs in the gym every day!" The truth is most people don't, including the ones who say they do. 

If social media was more honest, there would be posts of people smashing a fistful of chocolate digestives because they had a shitty day (that was me); scooping out lemon curd with their finger, straight from the jar because it's f###in delicious (that was me too).

The REAL truth is that we are human. 
I accept that once or twice a week I'm going to make decisions that I know I shouldn't, and I also know that the guys I train will make similar decisions. So I don't judge. We get our shit together and we get back on the road.


The things I value most in any person is honesty and integrity, two (of many) things that I inherited from my dad and am eternally grateful for and why I feel 100% comfortable in telling people how it is really going to be.

You are going to have setbacks, they're inevitable.  You want to lose the weight that you put on over the last 12-18 months? Then to do it in a sustainable way, expect it to take 12-18 months to lose it and keep it off. Will that be all pictures of green shakes and sweaty smiling faces? At first, maybe, but when the novelty wears off there will be low, shitty days too. Setbacks are inevitable, log it in a journal, reflect, deal with it and move on.

The takeaway of this, is not to fall into the obsession of comparing and trying to look like someone else on a social media post....who may have been photo shopped anyway.
It is not easy, it takes time, a shit ton of effort, commitment and persistence.  




 

 
 


 

'When you're dead, you're dead!'

The most of my 20s and early 30s were focused on being safe; providing stability for my family and working every hour to keep the boat steady.  I hated it.  

I feel empathy for every single person out there who is living to be safe and provide stability for others... 

....but what's the message you are giving? What will be YOUR legacy?

Don't take risks?

Don't do what makes you happy?

Don't test how far you can actually push yourself?

When you're dead, you're dead. The saddest thing in the world is to get to the end of the road and feel like you could've done more, like you didn't fulfil your opportunity in this meat suit.  

Do something that will inspire others. STARTING NOW!

 

The Importance of Accountability

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently." Tony Robbins

We've all met someone who declared they will be a huge success, famous and earning a ton of money when they 'grow up'.  When you ask how they will achieve this, the answer is rarely a detailed plan that covers each phase of the process and what possible pitfalls there may be, it's more like '.....er.......I'll be a singer'. A little flippant, I know but you get my point. Success doesn't come by chance and the perfect plan amounts to nothing if you're not prepared to follow it through.
I used to really take it personally when a client would contact me after a week or two of training and say things like, "I'm not feeling any better and haven't lost any weight" or "I've been training 'x' number of weeks and I haven't set a personal best since week 1" or what I call 'non-emergency emergencies' (last minute reasons that they can't attend e.g. "I've had a long day") , I'm sure other trainers or coaches have heard it before.  What I did though was spend hours and hours trying to put my finger on why they weren't getting the results. The programme that they would be following was covering everything that was picked up on assessment, I was giving regular calls or emails to see how they were doing with the nutrition side of it, their callorie and macro allowance was set to promote the adaptation to the individual goal. Something was just not right.
My next step was to ask them to send me a log of what they did over the last 3 days. I find this realistically easy to do with any client. When I got this information back I would see things like, 'skipped breakfast so had a huge lunch to make up for it' or 'only did part of a workout as I ran out of time'.  I couldn't believe that I was being asked why their plan wasn't working when it turns out they weren't even following the thing! I get most people in the gym twice a week, sometimes only once though. For that session I am totally accountable. I write the programme, I make changes when needed, I make the calls on whether to push hard or ease back during a workout.
Outside of the gym however, it's all you!
You decide what you eat, you decide whether you're going to do workouts I write for you to do on your own, you decide what you'll be doing at the weekend.  It is because of this that I make the decision that if I feel a client isn't showing signs that they are fully committed to the cause, I ask them to train somewhere else. I admit that not all situations are the same and we may have to do some real support work to uncover certain issues, but I think we can all tell when someone is bullsh***ing. If you put in half-arsed efforts, expect half-arsed results.......and get those half-arsed results from someone else, not from me.  
That goes for all walks of life, not just training. Name me one successful person who only tried a little bit to be successful, who didn't sacrifice anything at all to get to where they were/still are.  You won't get far.

Be accountable for what you do outside of the gym. It's ok to mess up, everyone does. It's not ok to look at others for excuses and kid yourself you did everything when you didn't.
People can tell.