Highlands Peak Sports Skills

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Empowered Learning Transformation Centers



Skills development is a driving force in youth athletics. The “10,000 hour” rule has propagated a demand for time in sport over any other athletic improvements. What are your thoughts on this trend?


First off, skills improvement (particularly in a more advanced player) only has about a 10% window of improvement. Physical strength and conditioning and the corresponding ability to consistently demonstrate skill can improve by 100% in an advanced athlete who has no strength and conditioning experience. The take away is really that greater performance tends to come from size, speed etc., not a real change in skills. Once a high level of sport skill is established it is not easy to improve.


As for the 10,000 hour idea, parents have to realize that proper strength and conditioning needs to be part of the 10,000 hours. Playing a sport is not like playing guitar or violin. Athletes need the physical abilities as well as the skills.


When is less more? Over the course of the year, how much time should be spent in sport and how much should be spent in strength and conditioning?


Serious athletes needs a minimum of two hours a week of strength and conditioning on a year round basis and, have one off-season in every sport. It’s fine for kids to play two sports at a time, but it is not fine to play one sport year round. The reason we see hip injuries in soccer and hockey and arm injuries in baseball is kids playing year round too soon. Early high school might be the time to really consider specialization. Sooner than that and we get the “small base, small pyramid” effect. A good athletic base is broad at the bottom and is composed of many sports experiences. Adults need to be specialists; young athletes need to be generalists.


If a child (in the middle school + age range) is playing two sports per season, are they getting enough strength and conditioning?


If they are not doing strength and conditioning, they are not getting strength and conditioning. Sports (depending on the sport) may provide conditioning but, none will really help to improve strength or power. Strength and power work needs to be separate.


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