Strength training for kids

Getting pitch perfect with our SCC Rugby Pro

Here's John Brake - former England rugby player - and one of our well-known head coaches here at the SCC and UFIT Rugby Holiday Camps coach. John's also a Personal Trainer at UFIT Amoy - and as someone who has been on the rugby world stage he's really well placed to teach kids the physical and mental qualities needed to succeed in this great sport - as well as the challenges of every day life.

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John's international rugby career

John represented England as a schoolboy at Millfield in the under-16 and under-18 levels. After leaving and joining Northampton he progressed to the under-20 side and made his debut for the England Sevens team in San Diego in 2007.

John  went on to represent England Sevens for six seasons, playing in 41 World Series Tournaments, two Commonwealth Games, a Sevens World Cup and ten European Tournaments.

John captained the winning England Sevens team in the 2012 European Sevens Grand Prix.

We asked John more about his background and approach to kids' coaching.

What sports did you play as a kid?

I played and took part in every sport possible. I loved playing football, hockey, rugby & basketball. I was never a great swimmer though and just felt I was more of a sinker. 

My parents were brilliant at giving me opportunities and support. They never pushed me, just highlighted to me at times why I enjoyed sport so much. They were just very supportive. 

What pushed you toward professional rugby?

When I was ten I went to boarding school where rugby was the no 1 sport in the school. The enthusiasm and buzz around game day just ignited my passion to play with my mates. I had some very influential coaches in the senior school who were incredible at man-management and inspiring. 

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What values did you learn that you share with kids you coach?

a) TRUST. You have to trust your team mates and yourself to get the job done. 

b) COMMITMENT. You set a goal and you go out to achieve it with everything in your power to do that. It's like a switch. You're either on or off. 

c) ENJOYMENT. Unfortunately people can lose sight of this when playing and coaching. The only reason we all took part to start with was to enjoy the experience. Keep things fun.

d) DISCIPLINE. To turn up to training on time. To make the extra effort to prepare. To put the team first at times. Practice. This has been so important my entire career. 

e) ENERGY. Bring as much as you can. Whether that's mental or physical. It's infectious to those around you. 

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My approach to coaching kids

It has to be enjoyable. And about kids first. It's good to develop the individual and install good values to develop and enhance their lives on and off the pitch. 

Why I love coaching kids

I love their energy, and having the challenge and the opportunity to witness them really improve over a period of time. Kids are not pros. They are all here for the love of the game, not for a pay cheque. It's refreshing! 



How I can help their rugby

I'd like to think they'll improve their key skills. They’ll end up knowing how effective they are and how to play to their strengths. I want them to leave with loads of confidence and to make decisions for themselves. At the end of the day, they're the ones on the pitch. Not the coaches. 

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What I get out of coaching kids

A sense of responsibility to pass on my knowledge and love for the game. To enhance someone's life is pretty cool. Plus the fact if I can have the same effect as my coaches did on me that's pretty incredible. 

I once took an intro session to contact skills in a big inner city London group. It's a charity to help less privileged children. I told the 6ft 3" 18 stone 16year old to demonstrate what I just told in tackle technique. I told him 25% intensity.

I don't think he heard and took a 10m run up at 100% and smashed me. I was on my back surrounded by 30 boys crying with laughter. 

I now always emphasise. It's only 25% when demonstrating. 

Life with UFIT and in SG

Life has been very exciting since I moved over with my wife UFIT Nutritionist Becky six months ago. Of course getting married and moving to the other side of the world has been an incredible experience for me. The people and opportunities I've had have been really great since I arrived. The diversity here is astonishing. It's been fun exploring a new place. With regards to rugby I've been thoroughly impressed with the competitiveness of youth rugby and the high standards at a number of tournaments I've been to. It's surprised me and has been really good. 


About John Brake

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John Brake retired from Rugby in the summer of 2016 after a ten-year career playing for England 7s and Northampton Saints. Throughout John’s career he received world class strength and conditioning experience and soon gained a passion for it. This interest led to John becoming a fully qualified PT and taking on clients.

John can assist clients with a variety of health and fitness goals whether that’s gaining muscle, improving body composition or just becoming fitter to support a lifestyle. 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Level 3 Qualified Personal Trainer
  • Level 2 Qualified Rugby Coach
  • England Sevens, Northampton Saints.

Getting pitch perfect with a former Rugby Pro

Meet John Brake - former England rugby player - and kids coach at the UFIT Rugby Holiday Camps. John's also a Personal Trainer at UFIT Amoy - and as someone who has been on the rugby world stage he's really well placed to teach kids the physical and mental qualities needed to succeed in this great sport - as well as the challenges of every day life.

johnbrakeEnglandplayer.png

John's international rugby career

John represented England as a schoolboy at Millfield in the under-16 and under-18 levels. After leaving and joining Northampton he progressed to the under-20 side and made his debut for the England Sevens team in San Diego in 2007.

John  went on to represent England Sevens for six seasons, playing in 41 World Series Tournaments, two Commonwealth Games, a Sevens World Cup and ten European Tournaments.

John captained the winning England Sevens team in the 2012 European Sevens Grand Prix.

We asked John more about his background and approach to kids' coaching.

What sports did you play as a kid?

I played and took part in every sport possible. I loved playing football, hockey, rugby & basketball. I was never a great swimmer though and just felt I was more of a sinker. 

My parents were brilliant at giving me opportunities and support. They never pushed me, just highlighted to me at times why I enjoyed sport so much. They were just very supportive. 

What pushed you toward professional rugby?

When I was ten I went to boarding school where rugby was the no 1 sport in the school. The enthusiasm and buzz around game day just ignited my passion to play with my mates. I had some very influential coaches in the senior school who were incredible at man-management and inspiring. 

johnbrake1.png
johnbrakeplaying.png

What values did you learn that you share with kids you coach?

a) TRUST. You have to trust your team mates and yourself to get the job done. 

b) COMMITMENT. You set a goal and you go out to achieve it with everything in your power to do that. It's like a switch. You're either on or off. 

c) ENJOYMENT. Unfortunately people can lose sight of this when playing and coaching. The only reason we all took part to start with was to enjoy the experience. Keep things fun.

d) DISCIPLINE. To turn up to training on time. To make the extra effort to prepare. To put the team first at times. Practice. This has been so important my entire career. 

e) ENERGY. Bring as much as you can. Whether that's mental or physical. It's infectious to those around you. 

IMG_6330 (1).JPG
IMG_1827.JPG

My approach to coaching kids

It has to be enjoyable. And about kids first. It's good to develop the individual and install good values to develop and enhance their lives on and off the pitch. 

Why I love coaching kids

I love their energy, and having the challenge and the opportunity to witness them really improve over a period of time. Kids are not pros. They are all here for the love of the game, not for a pay cheque. It's refreshing! 



How I can help their rugby

I'd like to think they'll improve their key skills. They’ll end up knowing how effective they are and how to play to their strengths. I want them to leave with loads of confidence and to make decisions for themselves. At the end of the day, they're the ones on the pitch. Not the coaches. 

IMG_7229.JPG
IMG_7250.JPG

What I get out of coaching kids

A sense of responsibility to pass on my knowledge and love for the game. To enhance someone's life is pretty cool. Plus the fact if I can have the same effect as my coaches did on me that's pretty incredible. 

I once took an intro session to contact skills in a big inner city London group. It's a charity to help less privileged children. I told the 6ft 3" 18 stone 16year old to demonstrate what I just told in tackle technique. I told him 25% intensity.

I don't think he heard and took a 10m run up at 100% and smashed me. I was on my back surrounded by 30 boys crying with laughter. 

I now always emphasise. It's only 25% when demonstrating. 

Life with UFIT and in SG

Life has been very exciting since I moved over with my wife UFIT Nutritionist Becky six months ago. Of course getting married and moving to the other side of the world has been an incredible experience for me. The people and opportunities I've had have been really great since I arrived. The diversity here is astonishing. It's been fun exploring a new place. With regards to rugby I've been thoroughly impressed with the competitiveness of youth rugby and the high standards at a number of tournaments I've been to. It's surprised me and has been really good. 


About John Brake

web39.jpg

John Brake retired from Rugby in the summer of 2016 after a ten-year career playing for England 7s and Northampton Saints. Throughout John’s career he received world class strength and conditioning experience and soon gained a passion for it. This interest led to John becoming a fully qualified PT and taking on clients.

John can assist clients with a variety of health and fitness goals whether that’s gaining muscle, improving body composition or just becoming fitter to support a lifestyle. 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Level 3 Qualified Personal Trainer
  • Level 2 Qualified Rugby Coach
  • England Sevens, Northampton Saints.

The benefits of strength training for kids

Adults often fear that strength training is unsafe for kids - find out in three simple steps how your child can benefit. 

As a parent, it’s easy to understand these natural reservations, but it's important we set the record straight. The truth is, strength training is safe and good for kids - when it's done the right way.

Strength training provides many benefits for children and adolescents in a physical and physiological capacity however it may also have a profound effect on their health later on in life as well, and here’s why:

Regular physical activity is essential for normal growth and development and kids should be encouraged to engage in 60 minutes of vigorous activity every day. However, most parents shy away from allowing their child to participate in strength training activities. This is normally down to a belief that performing this type of work can be dangerous for their growth and development or simply a lack of a safe appropriate venue and instructors for them to go.

Research over the last decade has repeatedly suggested that strength training can have a unique benefit for kids when appropriately supervised.

Similar to adults, a structured strength training program can have favourable effects on a child’s musculoskeletal strength, body composition, cardio vascular risk factors and psycho-social well being.

When is the right age to introduce them to strength training?

Between the ages of 11 to 16 is an ideal time to develop musculoskeletal strength, this will have a positive effect on a child’s ability to perform life’s everyday activities with greater energy and will increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports related injury. There is a growing trend in sports related injuries amongst young athletes this can be caused by muscular imbalances, poor conditioning and overtraining (doing to much too soon).

Mentoring and learning from highly experienced strength & conditioning coaches is crucial to your child’s development.

Causes of injury

A common cause of injury amongst young athletes is early specialization. This is where a child performs a high amount of training in one particular sport which often leads to overuse injuries due to the repetitive stress on the body. Young athletes should be encouraged to take part in a variety of sports along side an appropriate strength training program in order to combat repetitive strain and overuse injuries.

It’s not just the physical you need to look into…

It is important to stress here that strength training isn’t only important for kids that participate in sport.

One of the most overlooked benefits is on a child’s physiological well being. Research has suggested the health and body image benefits that come with strength training have improved the self confidence and physiological health with young boys and girls alongside the social skills that are developed when training in a group setting. Research has also found that physical activity habits that are established in early life tend to carry over in to adulthood.

An important part of this is developing what we call fundamental movement skills (FMS) such as jumping, hopping, squatting, pressing, balance etc. Research has also shown that children who develop these skills at a young age are less likely to be sedentary during adulthood.

UFIT Clinic provides one of the best Performance Psychologists in Singapore - Dr Jay Lee. She works with parents and children to develop their mental focus and get the best out of their performance. Furthermore, children who do not develop these skills will find it hard to learn these requisite movements which allows them to participate in physical activity and sport later in life, thus effecting their confidence and vigour when it comes to working out.

So what kind of exercises are we talking about? 

Joe Williams, Personal Trainer from UFIT one-north and UFIT Youth Academy and UFIT Kids Holiday Camps coach shares his top five exercises right here:

Box Jump
An important exercise to teach proper landing mechanics for youth athletes. The box takes away some of the landing force, allowing for a better landing. Important to land in a good position, with hips above knees - so don't make the box too high!

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Single Leg Hop, Stick and Catch
Single leg control is really important for most sporting movements, and helps to strengthen the ankle knee and hip dynamically. Catching a tennis ball on landing encourages correct posture, and can be progressed by throwing the ball harder to difficult catching positions. It also adds another element of fun to the drill!

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Goblet Squat
Squatting is what we call a fundamental movement skill, or FMS. It teaches a young athlete the move simultaneously at the ankle knee and hip while maintaining correct posture, as well as building strength and stability in the lower body.

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Push-Up
Correct push-ups are much harder than they look! Whole body stability (like a plank), scapula (shoulder blade) function and control and strong pushing muscles are taught here. All these things are important for any sports or games, especially those that involve the potential of falls - a strong stable upper body can make landing much safer!

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Pullunder
Similar to the push-up, a pullunder works the posterior shoulder and is simply the same movement reversed; again, whole body control is developed. It's really important for all athletes - not just developing ones - to balance their pushing and pulling exercises.

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If there’s three things you should take away from this article, then make sure you’re doing this for your child…

  • Strength training should be an essential part of a child’s development
  • Make sure they are following a supervised and appropriate program both physically and psychologically
  • Despite concerns by parents, scientific evidence has proven that strength training provides many benefits not just on improved sporting performance but overall long term health and well being.

 

Does your child need Strength Training guidance?

Content brought to you by Tom Clarke who runs UFIT Youth Strength and Conditioning Academy out of UFIT one-north gym. The Academy is designed for 11-18 year olds to help improve sports performance and increase overall fitness and health. Tom has a Master’s degree in sports strength and conditioning with a focus on youth training and has previously worked professional sports team’s youth academies in the UK. For more information, contact academy@ufit.com.sg.

And we also run UFIT Holiday Kids camps where you kids can have guided supervision and loads of fun at The Jungle!