Vail health column: Focus on foundational movements to help youth athletes improve
Special to the Daily
The Vail Valley provides a great environment for young athletes to be active and healthy. Our terrain is suited to developing skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and trail runners. We have wonderful organizations for youth soccer and lacrosse. But what are the important training aspects that help our children succeed in their sports? What training protocols are essential to propel them to become better overall athletes and minimize injury?
Foundational movement development should be at the core of any young athlete’s approach to training. These fundamental athletic movement patterns are essential in nearly every sport. Athletes who learn and master these at a young age have a much higher degree of success and have better awareness of their bodies and lower incidence of injury.
Learning these skills at younger ages, during developmental stages of their central nervous and musculoskeletal systems, is beneficial. These skills help in athletics and also carry over into healthier postures and movements as adults.
Key movements such as squatting, hip hinging, femoral stabilization, posture in movement, thoracic rotation and bounding can all be learned early and safely. This creates the highest probability for success for an athletic season and long-term improvement. These movements can be learned and perfected without heavy loads as the young athlete masters the coordination, strength, balance, mobility and stability necessary to move in the most athletic and efficient manner.
We see many youth athletes come into Dogma Athletica who have had moderate success in their respective sports. But when we put them through an assessment, we can quickly see where there are deficiencies in strength or movement quality that limit their potential or lead to a sports-related injury.
One area in particular for many youth athletes is an inability to control eccentric loads or compression. This is key for snow sports athletes, as wells as soccer and lacrosse players. Skiers and snowboarders who are limited in this ability have difficulty controlling the G-forces in an aggressive, dynamic turn or sticking a landing. They are at risk for compression injuries as the joints or lower back take the load instead of creating the necessary tension in the muscular system. Most training methods focus just on the ability to produce force, but they overlook the youth athletes’ ability to resist force and properly decelerate a load. Without this ability, the athlete is at an increased risk for injury.
We can improve these young athletes overall skills and basic movements. It directly translates to success in sports and fewer injuries. One of our young athletes, Becker Dienst, 13, has found dramatic improvement in his lacrosse play. His father, Ryan, said, “Becker displays much more confidence on the field. … He holds his core strong and doesn’t lose his balance. His running technique looks better too after going through this programming.”
Dogma Athletica is offering a foundational movement program for youth athletes. This program will be lead by one of Dogma Athletica’s head trainers and certified athletic trainer Bryan Maroney. Maroney has an extensive background in training and developing youth athletes. This program begins June 1. It runs for a six-week session and will have groups for athletes ages 12-14 and 15-17.
This program will have a small-group focus with an ideal coach-to-athlete ratio so all participants get a high level of instruction.
For more information, call 970-688-4433 or email Maroney at email@example.com.
Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist, trainer and owner of Dogma Athletica in Edwards. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.