I’m fortunate because I’ve worked with hundreds of kids over the last decade of training, so I get to see a lot things that many parents don’t see.

We’ve seen the unorthodox eight year old who can’t even throw a ball, become an all-star player during sophomore year in high school.

We’ve also seen the gifted eight-year-old who can run circles around his friends in any youth sport, slow down and back off in high school and get passed up.

We always say, a lot happens during the transition when boys and girls become men and women.

All to say…
what your son or daughter is doing or not doing at a young age, is not necessarily an indicator of what they are going to be doing or not doing when they’re older.

For me, that takes a lot of pressure off from thinking that you have to do something a certain way, get the puzzle pieces in the right order, combine just the right programming together, to make them achieve a certain skill level, at a certain time, with the assumption that it will result in a certain achievement.

There are many reasons why we personally don’t stress about sports and athletics as parents. Mainly, with faith being at the center, we treat them merely as a small part of life. There’s a lot of good that can come from participation & competition (with the right coaches, focus, and intentions). There’s a lot of damage that can be done also.

Overall, my experience as a youth fitness coach transfers over to my approach as a parent with my own kids.

Here are 7 random discoveries about youth athlete & health development that affect our parenting & training mindset:

1. Get kids moving. Get them moving in every way possible. Basketball players need to move like soccer players and baseball players benefit from football and hockey movement skills. Focus on gross motor skills. Crawl. Climb. Skip. Run. Jump. Carry. Push. Pull. Lunge.

2. Get kids playing. We underestimate the power of play and self discovery. In fact, we can’t even measure the power. Kids don’t play enough anymore. Some have a hard time even self-leading games without being overly structured and told what to do. Play = FUN and kids need FUN.

3. Get kids having fun. Doesn’t matter what it is, training and practice can be fun. And fun can still build discipline and mental toughness. Mental toughness is very misunderstood. Screaming and yelling is the wrong tactic. Using fitness as punishment is also a slippery slope.

4. Sports need to change with seasons. Multiple sports is where it’s at. In training we know growth happens in the recovery phase. When kids step away they come back looking at the game differently. Mentally & physically they’ll adapt, enhance, and improve by taking breaks and changing things up.

5. Get kids involved in athletic development training. Whether it’s in between seasons, one day a week all year, or certain blocks out of the year. Strength, speed, and obstacle course programs increase systemic strength, wake up sleeping muscles, unlock potential, and connects the brain to the body (nervous system development). IMPORTANT: training is about moving better and feeling better. Focus on good, not hard. Overly exhausting kids and excessive volume is not going to improve results.

6. Constantly communicate and co-explore activities with your kids. Some kids are participating because they are forced. Even if they seem excited, they may not be. Expose, explain, encourage, but always be ready to listen and change based on their desires. *Sometimes a slight push is needed. For example, “I don’t care what you pick, but you need to pick something.” There’s always a time and a place. As long as it’s healthy, because….

7. There’s a time and a place to pull your kids from a sport. If coaches are doing more harm than good and it’s negatively affecting your kids, it’s time to get them out of there. Coaches can either make or break a child. Some kids can handle it. Some kids cannot. It’s not that your child needs to toughen up. Often, an adult needs to grow up & start acting like an adult. Again, there’s a way to build mental toughness and discipline in a positive, loving, and encouraging atmosphere. Read about some of the greats. They didn’t use damaging tactics. ESPECIALLY at the youth level!

Finally, to my Christian brothers and sisters, if you’re never at church, but yet never miss sports, think about what that’s saying to our kids. What we prioritize and emphasize now greatly influences what they’ll prioritize and emphasize as adults.

We love watching our kids play sports. And we’re fortunate that they get to grow up in our gym. Ultimately our end goal is that whatever they choose, they pursue a fit and healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

Hey, never take my word for it. I don’t know much, but I do know some things. Try out these mindset shifts for yourself today.

And it may just be an absolute game changer for you and everyone in your life.