We want our children to be well-rounded in all areas; in the classroom, in social settings and on the ball field too. But when it comes to their athletic ability, how do we make sure that they’re reaching their highest potential? Are there certain diets, activities, or exercises we should push to help them succeed?
Whether you’re a parent looking to help your kid make the high school basketball team or you’re a coach looking to groom your players for college scouts, we’re here with a 8 solid ways to improve their power. More specifically, how can we improve their athletic “explosiveness?”
What is Athletic “Explosiveness”
Before we dive into how, let’s talk about what “explosiveness” actually is. Basically, it’s a synonym for power. How can we make our children more powerful on the field, the court or the track?
Their explosiveness encompasses their force. Jumping higher, pushing off of the base quicker or simply running faster, all of these feats deal with one’s own power. And most specifically, explosive strength is an individual’s ability to exert maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time possible.
8 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Athletic “Explosiveness”
Arm mechanics are one – important – part of an athlete’s overall form, especially when it comes to running. Try having your kids practice swinging their arms while seated on the floor. This will force the flexing of one’s elbow and help create the proper movement once they’re up and going.
With the proper arm mechanics, an athlete’s rhythm and speed will improve. Those arms help push and propel the body along its path and, thus, help their “explosiveness,” on the field, track or on the court.
This exercise is easily built upon once the initial movements are perfected. Attach these new arm movements to relay races or other challenges to where they can put them to good use.
Game Day Nutrition
Exercises and drills will only get you so far, an athlete’s nutrition is important – no matter their age. And that nutrition is especially important come game day.
Water is key. You must make sure that your child is staying hydrating before, during, and after their game. Make sure they’re getting enough water throughout the day. And, if you want to really top things off nicely, add some milk to the list as well. Low-fat milk is great for helping to hydrate but also providing other great benefits such as calcium, protein, and potassium.
Carbs are smart and filled with energy, but make sure they’re reaching for good, beneficial ones. Try adding whole-grains and pasta to lunchtime, and make sure they’re getting a bit of protein in them throughout the entire day as well. Lean meats and hardboiled eggs are good selections.
Wall squats – and regular squats – are another great exercise to add to the team’s roster. Knowing how to do these correctly gives a strong, powerful basis for both jumping and running.
Have your child face the wall with his/her hands held above his/her head. He/she should now be able to get in squatting position – with their thighs parallel to the floor – and not fall backward when standing back up. Practice this movement until their ankles, legs, hips, and back are strong enough to make it happen in one smooth motion.
If you can run fast with a weight on your back, you can certainly run fast when it’s pulled off of you. And that’s basically what the logic is behind resistance running. There’s also a variety of ways to use this idea and turn it into a drill.
Resistance belts are safe and work well. Just tie two partners up and watch the magic happen. This builds strength, better balance, confidence and, in particular, your sprint speed. Running against tension – turning it into an easy drill – will increase your starting speed (or your explosion off the pavement).
Once you have a player belted, have them start in sprinting position. Then on the count of three, have them sprint as hard as they can (against your weight) for five paces. **You don’t even have to have them run against another person. Dragging sleds or parachutes work well too!
Just like nutrition, stretching correctly could make or break you as well. Feeling sluggish because you skipped breakfast or had a fatty-filled lunch before the big game won’t get you far. And nixing the warmup will have a kid feeling tight, prone to injury and tired too.
An important way of utilizing one’s entire power is to be able to get that fullness out of the body. And the more flexible that body is, the better range of motion that they’ll assume. Learn how to stretch out the entire body as part of the daily routine.
Skipping is fun but power skipping can be quite beneficial. It develops the strength of the lower extremities without exposing young, growing bodies to weight training at too early of an age. And since the goal here is to improve a child athlete’s “explosiveness,” it’s important to add drills and exercises into the workout that increase their agility skill, linear speed, and vertical jumping – without overworking.
Power skipping can come in two different forms: high or long skipping. And they’re pretty self-explanatory. High power skipping involves higher (vertical knee) jumps and long skipping involves longer (covering more land/horizontal) jumps.
As long as box jumps are done correctly they can be really helpful in training. Again, these drills will help build lower extremity strength and muscle. The quicker and more steady these jumps become, the more “explosive” they’ll be when it’s game time. This is also an instant gratification confidence booster!
With knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart, have the kids find a comfortable distance away from their boxes. They’ll get into a semi-squat position and on your count they’ll swing their arms up (arm mechanics) and jump on top of the box.
Last, but not least, comes circuit training. And circuit training can encompass a wide range of drills and exercises. This time it’s all about fast, quick rhythms (and thinking) and it’s perfect throughout off-season workouts.
These drills aren’t necessarily what will improve their leg or arm power, instead they will improve their overall state and athleticism. Circuit training helps build a stronger, healthier heart which is at the core of an athlete’s endurance. And you can be creative, involving a mix of your favorite exercises.
Some examples that you can include:
- Jump roping
- Jumping jacks
- Weighted ball throws (older children)
- Quick dashes
- Power Skipping