The Time-Sensitive Window within Youth Conditioning Programs!

This one is for parents: The time-sensitive window within Youth Conditioning Programs!

andrew and devin ground work

There is a special window of opportunity within adolescent development – an extremely time-sensitive window of opportunity in which our children need be exposed to intelligent movement. What does this mean? It is important to include movement that challenges the brain and the body at the same time! Here’s what you should look for when researching youth conditioning programs.

Let’s start with examples of movement that would be considered unintelligent:

  • Running on the treadmill
  • Using the elliptical machine (or any machine) while listening to music or watching TV
  • Squatting underneath a heavy load when you can’t even squat your own bodyweight
  • Tons of push-ups without ever learning how to do a push-up
  • Sprinting at (insert sport here) practice without ever learning about running mechanics
  • Deadlifting when you can’t touch your toes in a forward bend

Neuroscience tells us that our brain adapts to exactly what it does. This means that we can adapt to healthy movement but it also means we can just as easily adapt to unhealthy movement. So our habitual activities become important here. For example, if you sit too much guess what you get good at? Sitting!! If you run on a treadmill guess what you get good at? Running on a treadmill, which is not exactly the environment you need to be good at running in.

Do you think the quality of the “input” matters? You better believe it! The quality of the input determines the quality of the output. By output, I mean performance and adaptability of a person’s movement.

I want to help you understand the time-sensitive window and how important it is for your child to be involved in a youth conditioning program that includes novel movement. During this time, they can be set up for a healthier and more sustainable life, whether they decide to be a competitive athlete or not.

In my experience as a performance coach, I have grown accustom to seeing this time-sensitive window appear from ages 12-18. This is a time that a person’s nervous system is very open to absorbing all the various movement inputs that I like to use.

When movement inputs are introduced correctly it will set the stage for a higher performing, sustainable and healthier bodies!

Remember this – “Exercise is not so easy that you can’t mess it up.” This is a good quote from Dr. Cobb, innovator of a brain-based training system called ZHealth Performance Solutions. This quote reminds us that you can mess up and select exercise that is not right for you.

There are so many cultural traps that exist in our society right now in regards to health and fitness. People are getting the wrong idea about what healthy, quality movement even is. In fact, the worst part is that our society has decided exercise doesn’t count unless it kicks our butts! This mind set is hurting our culture, literally. It does help my business model…but it’s not what I want for people!

Take a moment and pause during your day to look around. You will see the outcome of this “no pain, no gain” mindset.

What does all this mean for parents? Parents need to feel a sense of urgency and get their children involved in good quality, novel training programs. Programs that teach the developmental layers of movement first!

Look for educated coaches and programs that are flooded with natural movement and variability.

We want your kids:

  • Crawling
  • Rolling
  • Lunging
  • Jumping
  • Landing
  • Hanging
  • Swinging
  • Skipping
  • Balancing and more!

Our youth conditioning programs incorporate all of these inputs.

Other variables that are just as important as natural movement include:

  • Multiple Directions
  • Different Terrain
  • Varied Speeds
  • Choreography
  • Tempo/Rhythm
  • Timing

taylor. variability chart

The best part, it’s FUN! With this kind of approach, fun and quality of movement are the goals and fitness is the outcome!

We even work with kids on their visual system because we understand the importance of vision and how it relates to movement and sport performance.

Here is a video of three boys aged 14 who have been training with us for 5 months.

All complicated movement patterns have prerequisites. If a young person is not exposed to learning the simple elements of movement, they are at greater risk and end up paying the price later. Our society is now driven by specialization more than ever before. One-sport athletes are at the highest risk for injury. We are seeing more and more young people getting injured because of year round training programs that lack variety, quality, and proper progression. This causes an unbalanced lifestyle and bodies that are unprepared for changing variables.

As a parent, ask yourself – is my child balancing out what he or she is doing athletically with intelligent conditioning as preparation? We all understand the term “injury prevention.” In my opinion there is no such thing as injury prevention. Athletes get injured. Let’s talk about minimizing risk of injury or the severity of injury instead. With the right foundation of conditioning you can absolutely minimize the damage and recover much faster!

Parents! Here’s the point I am trying to get at. If you are not proactive in getting your child involved in high quality, novel, movement education there is a price to be paid later in life. I am continually shocked at the amount of movement dysfunction that young athletes bring into our studio. Something is not working.

We as humans have interfered with a natural progression that was already designed to work for us. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on physical education in school systems to teach the fundamentals of movement anymore. We also cannot depend on nature’s progression to develop balanced bodies because we have removed the things in life that do that.

It’s in your hands. Do your research and locate high quality professionals that can get your child moving intelligently. Invest in their bodies now instead of waiting until they feel pain later. The preventive approach does work!

Get Moving and Get your Brain into it!

~Taylor Kruse