UFIT One-North

Early specialisation of sports in kids - yes or no?

Most parents and young athletes know of Tiger Woods. Often, they’ll know about his route into the sport; hitting golf balls by the age of 2 and a half with razor sharp focus. In other words, Tiger was born to play golf, and everything he did was designed to make Tiger the Number 1 golfer in the world, and he achieved his goal.

But for most of us, and most of our children, early specialisation is not always a good idea. Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova – and for every sports star who made their entire childhood about playing and being the number one in the world at that sport or event - there are literally a million children who, being forced to play and play and play the same sport, fell out of love with it and never picked up a racquet again.

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But when to specialise? If we as parents or coaches feel the need to hit our magical “10,000 hours” of practice in order to be elite, when else can we hit these numbers? Children want to achieve, and how is swimming, basketball and cricket going to help with my 9 year old rugby prodigy?

Be careful of the misinterpretation of this “10,000” hour golden rule. Anders Ericsson, the researcher who is credited with the so-called rule states his work was misinterpreted and popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers; it ignores the other elements of high performance and only focuses on deliberate practice. Top youth sport researchers suggest an alternative. Whilst competitors whose sports peak after the age of 20 - which, barring female gymnastics and some tennis players - covers most sports – they need to accumulate 10,000 hours of general sports participation. This does not mean 10,000 hours of that one particular sport.

A popular model of youth development is the Long Term Athletic Development Model, and its evolutionary successor the Youth Physical Development Model. Whilst in depth analysis of these models are beyond the scope of this article, there are certain stages of sporting development; the sampling years (6-12), the specialising years (13-15) and the investment years (16+).

Research has shown that multiple sport participation in the sampling years leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers and increased confidence, as well as a reduced injury risk. Whilst the LTAD is by far from a perfect model and bases recommendations on chronological rather than maturational age, it gives us guidelines (+/- 2 or so years) that are good starting points.  Specialisation in a single sport accounts for 50% of overuse injuries in youth athletes. Young athletes who specialised were 70-93% more likely to be injured than those playing multiple sports! Variety of movement patterns, variety of opponents and sporting actions allow the young athlete to move in a myriad of patterns, meaning when things do change they have the ability to adapt and overcome the movement problem in front of them without potentially injury inducing compensations.

Playing multiple sports for as long as possible lends itself to greater creativity when out on the field, even during those later investment years. If a rugby player for example has spent his early years playing basketball and tennis, chances are his or her lateral movement and hand-eye coordination will be significantly developed, allowing a more creative movement to beat an opponent or find ways to get the try scoring pass away. In the US, a 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey indicated that 88% of college athletes participated in more than one sport as a child.

Psychologically speaking, a child that plays multiple sports is far more likely to play sports into adulthood, either at the elite or non-elite level; and those who specialise early are more likely to suffer stress, burnout, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment. The focus on only one sport means that their athletic confidence hinges on one thing and potentially one event! If a young athlete performs less than expected or desired at a swim meet, and all they do is swim, it has a huge negative impact. If the athlete performs less than expected at a swim meet but has a great time playing volleyball the next weekend, chances are they’re going to be far less worried about their swim meet!

Remember, sports are not academics; if a child falls behind in school, it can be hard to catch up. In sports, the opposite is often true. Trying many different sports throughout the year will almost certainly enhance your child’s ability to play their chosen sport when they begin their investment years; the science also dictates they might have more fun and be healthier when they get there, as well. Which is almost certainly the real challenge.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe is an Masters level UKSCA Accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach, with a wealth of experience working with athletes of all ages and standards from professional sportspeople to 6-9 year old youth athletes.

Joe’s training style focuses on the underpinning quality of strength and movement quality to assist performance of sporting goals, body composition, and general health and wellbeing. He focusses on evidence based programming, training smart and getting the basics right before all else. Joe believes in coaching with intelligence, training with intent and keeping things simple.


UFIT KIDS CAMPS

They’re back! UFIT Kids' Camps are on these Easter holidays!

Get your kids active and outdoors this Easter break at our popular Athlete Development and Rugby Development Camps. Running from 3 to 14 April for boys and girls aged 7 to 18 years, these camps will help your kids develop their physical and sporting abilities while they make new friends at the same time. Sign up now to secure their spot!

For more details see our website at www.ufit.com.sg/kids-camps


YOUTH ACADEMY

The academy is designed for 11-18 year olds to help improve their sports performance and overall fitness and health whilst having fun and being part of a motivating group setting.

The sessions enable participants to build a solid athletic foundation to excel in your future sporting or active life. Sessions run throughout the week, please see relevant times below. All levels and abilities are welcome.

Join us every weekday at UFIT one-north,  4pm to 5pm *except Wednesday. All levels and abilities are welcome.

For more details see our website at www.ufit.com.sg/youth-academy

What Strength and Conditioning is like at the elite level | UFIT Fitness

Q&A with Nick Lumley, Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Scotland Rugby sevens team.

We’ve been lucky enough to speak to Nick Lumley during his visit to Singapore for the Singapore Sevens with the Scotland National team. We thought that you might be interested to hear from a top Strength and Conditioning coach from a national side, see just how important Strength and Conditioning training is to being a top sportsperson.

What’s the importance of S&C training for 7s?

S&C is essential for all elite rugby players, especially 7s. It is the most physically demanding form of the game, and fitter, stronger and quicker players have an advantage on the field of play in terms of performance. Stronger, fitter players are less likely to get injured and are able to tolerate the volume of work throughout a 7s tournament as they recover more quickly.

Is S&C training different for the Sevens compared with 15’s?

Many of the basics are the same; players need to be strong, quick and very fit. In 7s there is an increased focus on high intensity running and repeated high intensity efforts with more demanding work-to-rest ratios. On top of that you have to be ready to play Six games in Two days. Because of this the profile of top 7s players needs to be slightly different, they are typically slightly lighter and quicker than their 15s counter parts. The S&C content also places more emphasis on these qualities and less focus on maximising body mass for collisions and the breakdown.

What components for fitness are most covered in S&C for Rugby?

This is pretty hard to answer. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with quite a few S&C coaches and they are all different! I think alot of people cover maximum strength and aerobic fitness pretty well. Certainly with our 7s team we target these, but quickly move on when we are satisfied with them and place an increased emphasis on maximising speed and our anaerobic pathways, as we believe these are the two qualities that are most essential for improving performance.

What are your favourite types of training with relation to 7s rugby?

I don’t really have a favourite! I look at each player and try and identify what limits them come game day and put in place a programme that addresses this. I’m a big believer in targeting a particular training response and coming up with a programme that overloads this appropriately. I think we can get lost in trying to tick too many boxes at one time or trying to be too “sport specific” and getting better at nothing. In reality being stronger, quicker or fitter is sports specific so we target these qualities as directly as necessary.

What 3 exercises can someone do at home to target 7s?

Again, this is quite a hard thing to answer because it depends who you are and what your limitations are! The basics done well will make most players better, regardless of training level. Training doesn’t need to be overly complicated to get results. I would suggest that if you doing the following, you won’t go far wrong:

  • A compound body life (Squat, deadlift, leg press)
  • An upper body push and upper body pull done regularly, with weights above 80% for 3-5 sets at least 2 x a week
  • Regular maximum effort sprinting on a good surface and a combination of some aerobic and anaerobic work

About the Author

Nick Lumley is Scotland Rugby Sevens Strength and Conditioning coach, a job he’s held since late 2014. Nick began his training by becoming a Strength and Conditioning/sport science intern for the WRU. He has held a number of different Strength and Conditioning coaching jobs since including, Strength and Conditioning coach for Gloucester Rugby and also Strength and Conditioning at Bath University coaching Olympic sports.

About UFIT

UFIT proudly hosted a number of the top teams during the Singapore Sevens 2016, which includes Fiji, All Blacks, England, Canada, USA and Scotland to train at our gyms.

At UFIT, we exist to inspire and guide our community of members, to realise levels of fitness and confidence beyond what could be possible by themselves. Fitness isn’t our job; it is our way of life. Check us out on our website or you can take a look at our Facebook page

Join us – the opportunities are endless.

UFIT Movement of The Month: Lateral Lunge and Cable Row.

By Tom Clifford

This is a great exercise that works your whole body – focusing mainly on the quadriceps, glutes, core, traps and rhomboids. I use this exercise towards the end of a session as a method to increase heart rate and get the upper and lower body working together in different planes of motion.

The benefits of this exercise include:

  • Increase HR
  • A very good mobility drill that aims to increase the flexibility and range of motion of hip adduction and ankle dorsiflexion.
  • A regression of the single leg squat, which will be useful for those whose goal is to complete a pistol squat.
  • Upper body pull movement to strength the upper back and promote good posture and retraction of the shoulders
  • An anti-rotation core exercise that provides stability through the trunk and lower body as you perform the cable row.

To perform this exercise you need to perform a lateral lunge correctly before completing the cable row. Lateral lunge involves stepping (lunge) to one side with the leg/foot that steps bending at the knee as you plant the foot and the stationary leg/foot remains straight. Once you are in this position you pull the handles on the cable until your elbows are in line with your ribcage and bending at the elbow. Then return to the start position.

One word of warning is do not overload this exercise and try to lift too heavy weight. You will not be able row as much as you would during a seated cable row because you are in a less stable position during the lateral lunge compared to seated.

To progress this exercise try a single arm cable row or reverse lunge instead of lateral.

7 questions in 7 seconds with Bootcamp Coach; Tom Clifford.

You have lived in the UK and Australia, what brings you to Singapore?

My visa expired for Australia and was looking for a new challenge that was a little bit closer to home. My mother moved to Singapore in the late 60’s and early 70’s with my grandparents and her siblings and she loved the 5 or 6 years spent here. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to come and see where they grew up and also to travel around Asia.

What is your favourite Bootcamp exercise?

I have 2 – Squats and Pushups.

What can people expect from you and your Bootcamp sessions? 

I like to focus on exercises that work different planes of motion, not just moving forwards and backwards but also side to side, twisting and different styles of crawling and jumping.

 

We know you have a keen interest in strength and conditioning training.  Will we see this reflected in your sessions?

Yes you definitely will. Strength and Conditioning isn’t just for high level elite athletes. We had a saying with our clients where I was Personal Training in Sydney that none of them were high level elite athletes but they were all high level corporate athletes. So no matter what your job is we can apply Strength and Conditioning principles into your training to make you healthier, fitter for your job and have a better lifestyle.

What would we find in your Bootcamp/workout bag?

Water

Food – generally leftover dinner from the night before

Spare gym clothes

Deodorant

Headphones (if I haven’t lost them)

Your number 1 tip for anyone that wants to try a Bootcamp but hasn’t taken the first step yet?

Don’t let fear stop you from trying. A lot of people, when they see a bootcamp, are afraid because they see all of these fit people running around and doing burpees. But once you take that first step and join in you realise that it is a community and everyone is there supporting each other, provide guidance and help when needed (and more often than not socialize together).

Share with us a fun fact that we don’t know about you

I was a lifeguard on the beaches back home and Australia for the past 6 years – I grew up watching Baywatch!!

Client Testimonial: Trevor Williams.

Trevor Williams lost an incredible 17.9kg during our mid year UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge. He then went on to win the UFIT Clean & Lean challenge 7, with a body fat loss of 4.63%  and weight Loss of 9.5kg

Trevor says the key to his success was:

  • The UFIT Clean & Lean overall program
  • Anne’s Saturday nutrition seminars
  • My wife’s support. Tim Baldwin’s (fellow UFIT Clean and Leaner) support.
  • The Facebook Clean & Lean support group
  • Around 98% compliance to diet.
  • An overall reduction in quantity of (allowed) food intake.
  • Walking for hours (and hours).
  • More focus.