Chris Hodges 12 Aug 2021 10 min read

Fostering a passion for fitness at an early age

As we look forward to the Holidays looking to wind down, we are also looking at things we can do to keep the children occupied. As a parent, it can be daunting to find the right activity to keep your kids busy, as sitting with the iPad or climbing the walls out of boredom are not what we want them to do all through the break.

You're in luck! UFIT Sports for Life is coming to the rescue with a revamped, fresh-look program for every semester break, that features a packed schedule to suit the holidays (as best we can at least)! You can be sure that your kids will have the time of their lives during the holidays and as parents, you can have peace of mind.

Chris Hodges, our UFIT Sports for Life Program Director, gives the lowdown on the changes for the year and the benefits they bring about.

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Our UFIT Sports for Life Program and Camp, providing the best possible development path for your children. One of the most exciting activities is that our Multi-Sports Camp will now run for ages 6-12 years, while our Sport-Specific Camps for a range of sports including rugby and football will cater for ages 10-16 years.

The change is due to a very simple reason, it is best for your child! Intellectual, physical and sporting development is a very individual process, occurring at very different rates for everyone. In terms of sporting and physical development, a child’s main growth spurt is a very important milestone and should be a major dictator of what activities and exercise are best to develop sporting ability. This usually occurs around 12 years of age for girls and 14 in boys but can vary by a few years on either side of this.

This is why our Multi-Sports Camp now runs for ages 6-12, the prime ages to learn a broader range of skills and abilities as far as possible. According to the Youth Development Model (Lloyd et al., 2012), children between these ages should focus on learning technically sound functional movements and improve physical attributes (speed, agility, power, and strength) through a variety of fun and engaging activities. This also serves to foster a passion and enjoyment for sport and help your kids choose a lifelong pursuit they are enthusiastic about. Therefore the Multi-Sports Camp has three main sections:

  • Speed and Agility Games

A variety of fast-paced games with the aim of finding space or tagging an opponent, examples include bullrush, capture the flag, and stuck in the mud. These will develop your child’s physical attributes as well as spatial awareness and teamwork.

  • Strength and Conditioning

Each child will be taught key athletic movements such as the squat, deadlift and lunge by our qualified coaches. Mastering their own body weight while moving correctly will set the foundations for future gym work while improving sporting potential. It is vital this is done by a suitable and qualified coach, something we are fortunately blessed with at UFIT.

  • Variety of Sports

Participation in a wide selection of sports is best for children under 12 years old, this will help them learn and develop a range of skills useful for all sports such as throwing, kicking, passing, and tackling. It is no coincidence that some of the world’s best athletes are talented at more than one sport.

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We have a very simple aim with each one of these sections: keep it fun, engaging, and safe. Our best-in-class coaches want to foster a passion for staying fit and healthy for life while promoting a love for all sport.

Once your child has hit their main growth spurt, specializing in their favorite sport or sports becomes more important. This is where our Sport-Specific Camps come in!

 

Sport Specialisation

Children should look to start specializing in their chosen sport or sports around the time of their biggest growth spurt (also known as peak height velocity). This is very different for all children but generally happens around the ages of 11-14, with girls hitting peak height velocity sooner than boys. After this age children should progressively start to specialize in a select few sports. This should however not come at the expense of enjoyment. It should still be an aim of any sporting pursuit to foster a lifelong passion for exercise, both recreationally and competitively.

UFIT Sports for Life Camps will be providing two sport-specific camps to help develop your child’s passion, enjoyment, and skill in their chosen sport. Our rugby camps, in particular, should be particularly exciting with the lead-up to the Singapore Sevens and rugby will very much be at the forefront of any sporting enthusiast’s mind.

 

The aims of this stage are:

  • To improve and refine sport-specific skills

  • Introduce competitive games while maintaining the core values of the sport

  • Continue and develop a structured program to develop the following: muscle growth, strength, power, agility, conditioning, and mobility

  • Educate on the importance of performance-related topics such as nutrition, injury prevention, and recovery

 

These aims have shaped our camp program to help develop your child into a future athlete. It is so much more than 5 hours in the baking Singapore sun and humidity!

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Our coaches come from a range of backgrounds including professional football and rugby academies (West Brom, Exeter Chiefs, and Harlequins to name a few). So the remit of the coaches is to provide an experience akin to that of a professional set-up, certainly like no other in Singapore. Our coaches will use the aims listed above and deliver three main sections to the camp:

 

  • Sport-Specific Skills
Our highly skilled and qualified coaches will start the week by reinforcing the basics, if the passing practice is good enough for Barcelona and the All Blacks then our kids must master them too. This will develop through the week to include more complex skills and execution of these basic skills under pressure.

 

  • Gym-Based Work
With all of our coaches experienced with child development in the gym, this aspect has great importance for us at UFIT Sports for Life Camps, and something only we do in Singapore. It is vital that children are taught how to move properly and safely. We are taught how to walk, so why not run, jump and lift? Our coaches will teach the children exercises and movements that they can take home and use to continue their development. For those at a basic level, this will include more bodyweight movements, while those that show themselves to be proficient at bodyweight, weighted exercises, and an introduction to Olympic weightlifting may be included.

 

  • Education
Throughout all of our sessions, we will be aiming to educate the children. Whether that is during the session about the importance of a thorough warm-up or during lunch about healthy food choices, we are always aiming to better the knowledge of our camp attendees. We will also have dedicated education sessions on components of bigger importance, such as nutrition, recovery, and injury prevention. These are the things that are really going to matter as the children progress into adulthood.

Does all this mean that all children should specialize in only one sport from 11 onwards? Absolutely not. Kids should be allowed to take part in sports that excite and get them enthusiastic about being active. Continuing to play multiple sports will help further all-round sporting ability. Some of the greatest athletes in history were talented at more than one sport.

  • Sir Ian Botham - Not only was Sir Ian one of England’s best ever all-round cricketers, he played 11 games for Scunthorpe in the football league

  • Usain Bolt - As well as being the 100m and 200m world record holder, Bolt is also a (reasonably) talented footballer. Recently playing in Australia professionally

  • Michael Jordan - After his first retirement Jordan turned his attention to America’s second tier of baseball, playing for a season before returning to basketball

 

What should happen however that the handful of sports your child does enjoy should be pursued, encouraged, and nurtured into a lifelong appreciation and passion, whatever level they may play as an adult.

SPORTS FOR LIFE CAMP

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Chris Hodges

Studio@Fairmont Manager, UFIT Sports Program Director & Personal Trainer