Summer is a great time for kids to get outside, be active, and develop their bodies athletically. There are typically strength and agility camps that are available in many communities, but these exercises can be done at home, without breaking the bank!
Whether it’s the off-season for your kiddos or you’ve joined a travel team for the out-of-school months, these are a great way to keep up their skills and continue to build their performance.
Below are 5 simple activities with some coaching points that kids of any age can perform to develop their strength & agility.
Five Great Core & Agility Exercises for Kids
A lunge is a total body strengthening exercise. The primary muscles worked in this exercise are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower leg musculature. At the same time, the upper body helps stabilize the body. This is excellent for developing coordination, single leg strength, and stability in the upper body as well as mobility in the lower body.
Lunges are an exercise that will help with any sports training, especially when it comes to strengthening the legs. Think about hockey or a catcher on a baseball or softball team, for instance.
Coaching Points: Do not let knee go over the toe or turn in. Step out so the middle of the thigh is parallel to the ground. Push through the heel when returning to the starting position.
SETS X REPS: 3 x 10 each leg, add weight in hands as you can properly perform the exercise and get all reps.
*Note: Athletic shoes recommended.
Watch Now to Lunge Properly
Push-ups are also excellent at engaging the muscles from the hips to the head. The primary muscles strengthened are the chest and arms. When done properly with a flat back a pushup will also develop the muscles that help stabilize the spine. Again, these are two simple exercises that are good to have in the bag for all athletes because a strong core is essential for moving forward with a player’s best foot.
Coaching Points: Keep back flat. Work toward touching the chest to the ground without the back swaying. Progress from wall push-ups to modified to traditional.
How to Do Push-Ups Video Tutorial
Pull-ups engage all the muscles of the upper back, specifically the Latissimus Dorsi, and stabilizer muscles are used to help prevent swinging during the movement.
Coaching Points: Go through a full range of motion and get assistance if necessary.
SETS X REPS: 3 sets of maximum amount of reps possible each set
How to Do Pull-Ups Video Tutorial
These drills hone an individual’s ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction. An individual can set up the cones in multiple configurations and even make it into an obstacle course for younger children. The primary movements to use are shuffling, backpedaling, and sprinting in any combination. The videos below demonstrate a few examples but use your creativity to create more.
These kinds of drills are especially important for basketball, soccer, and even hockey players – while they can be done on the ice or on the rink with skates on!
Coaching Points: Run in straight lines. Plant on the outside foot when preparing to change directions. Turn eyes and belly button to the next cone to help quickly get hips around.
SETS X REPS: Perform drill until proficient at proper movement then time how fast it can be done properly.
Five Cone Drills Video
Cone Drills to Increase Speed
These require an area where you can draw ten 12”x 12” squares in a line. This is an excellent method for developing foot quickness that can be done anywhere. The videos below demonstrate a few example patterns, but use your imagination and create your own.
Like cone drills, these too are important for sports that are in need of quick footwork; soccer, football, and basketball being two of the most obvious.
Coaching Points: Accurate footwork before speed. Quick and quiet feet.
SETS X REPS: Perform as many patterns as you desire with a minimum of 10 patterns in a session.
Ladder Drills Video
15 Footwork Exercises With Ladder Drills Video
Planks & Side Planks
These exercises engage all the muscles of the abdominals, lower back, hips, and glutes to build muscle endurance and strengthen all the stabilizer muscles around the spine. These are simple to the push-up and pull-up and how they are important for strengthening the core, which all athletes should work toward and be aware of.
Coaching Points: Keep back neutral and keep hips level, or in line on the side plank. Maintain a straight line from head to heel throughout the exercise.
SETS X REPS: begin with 30 sec. for plank and 15 sec. for each side plank. Continue to add 15 seconds as the exercise can be done with proper technique for the entire time.
How to Do Planks Video
How to Do Side Planks Video
Play Games With Friends (I.e. Be A Kid)
Many fundamental athletic skills are learned through playing sports. So, take some time outside with the kids! Grab some balls and shoot some hoops. Play a game of soccer with your neighbors or set up a Wiffle ball team. Even a regular game of tag can help to increase your child’s endurance.
In fact, tag and soccer teach a child how to change direction as well as acceleration and deceleration mechanics. Basketball and Wiffle ball work on fundamental hand-eye coordination needed in most sports.
All of these activities will help a child fine-tune their motor development, but sometimes the easiest exercise is to get them off the couch with friends playing something they enjoy. Will they become the next million-dollar athlete, maybe not. But they may find enjoyment in an active lifestyle which will carry on for the rest of their lives regardless of their athletic prowess.
And finally, it’s important to remember that each child is different in their ability. Adjust your expectations accordingly. For example, one child may perform ladder drills correct right away, but can barely do a modified push-up correctly. Another child may be able to do ten traditional push-ups, but trips all over on the ladder drills. Encourage the child to develop both and be patient and keep trying where they are less naturally-skilled.
Grass stains might be a problem, but that’s okay!