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There is an epidemic amongst our youth athletics.
That epidemic is the rise in sport-related injuries.
Over 3 million kids under the age of 14 will be injured each year playing their sport.
These numbers continue to rise as our youth athletes are competing more and more, specializing earlier in one sport, while spending less time developing their strength, flexibility, body mechanics and fitness levels.
In fact, over 50% of youth related injuries are caused by overuse.
In other words, our youth athletes are over-competed and under-conditioned to handle the long, repetitive stresses their bodies face playing their sport.
Think about the baseball player who only rotates one way while throwing a baseball.
Now ask him to do this year round. Certain areas of his body become very overdeveloped and stressed while others are neglected. Overtime, this causes a variety of issues like inflammation, pain, reduction in range-of-motion and faulty movement patterns -- significantly increasing the risk of injury.
The good news is, most of these injuries are very preventable.
With the right management of our athletes and proper age-specific training, we can greatly reduce this youth injury epidemic leading to longer, healthier athletic careers.
Let's get into the #1 exercise for athletes!
The great thing about hops and jumps is that they mimic many of the body positions and actions done during sport.
Athletics are mainly done on one leg at a time so our training should reflect this.
These drills are great for improving overall athleticism through gaining better coordination, balance, explosiveness, body control and most importantly, force production.
Newton's third law states: "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
This is key in getting our athlete's to understand how to get faster.
Speed isn't just about moving your feet fast.
This is why you don't see many salsa dancers competing in the 100m dash.
To be fast, you need to be strong and understand how to push or drive yourself where you want to go.
Simply put, the harder we push into the ground when we sprint, they faster we go.
Check out the angles of the athletes above.
They are coming out of the blocks and are in the acceleration (increasing speed) phase of their sprint.
Notice their posture and how they are working to drive their legs back into the ground to get themselves going forward.
This is where most of our team sport athletes spend their time -- accelerating.
To accelerate well and sprint fast, its all about force production.
The more force the athlete can put in the ground with each step, in the right direction, the faster the athlete will be.
This is why we love hurdle hops so much.
Not only are they the best exercise for lower-body injury prevention, but to clear the hurdle, athletes need to push into the ground (create force) to get themselves into the air and over the hurdle.
They begin to feel and understand how to push themselves where they want to go.
When we teach sprinting to our athletes you'll often hear us use words like, "drive!" and "push!" instead of words like "quicker".
It is amazing how much more explosive our athletes become when they understand this concept!