CrossFit Kids: Fitness first, then sport specialization

Today's children are raised in a world of competitive sports that start at an early age. In the Fargo-Moorhead area, hockey, gymnastics, soccer and wrestling commonly begin as early as preschool.

Team sports and compeition offer kids many positive lessons about teamwork, persistence and improving through practice, all while getting exercise and gaining physical skills.

There are equally powerful negative consequences of pushing kids to compete and specialize in a particular sport at a young age, including burnout, overuse injuries and unbalanced muscle development, to name a few.

CrossFit Kids is designed to improve the general physical preparedness (GPP) of young people and set them up for a lifetime of fitness. Our program is about broad, general, inclusive fitness. Making fitness fun is a major focus. For our youth, we combat overuse injuries due to early specialization and competitive burnout.

Visit our Youth Online Registration page to sign your child or teen up for CrossFit Kids or Teens classes.

What is the 10 Year - 10,000 Hour Rule?

The book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, discusses the 10,000 hour theory. The 10,000 hour rule is a theory that has been debated and studied in the context of numerous sports and activities. The theory of the 10 year-10,000 hour rule, explains that someone must spend 10,000 hours practicing to become a master of their art whether that be business, arts or sports. This theory comes out to an average of 3hours per day for a ten year span.

In the context of the modern day sports culture, most see this as an easy theory to accomplish; my kids will just be thrown into more practices and will specialize in just one sport. However, the theory is not that simple in understanding and definitely not easy for coaches to implement. Every sport has a unique set of skills required that lead to differing muscular and nervous system developments. These skill sets serve not only to the sport that the athlete primarily plays, but are transferrable to most if not all sports.

Therefore, participating in multiple sports is not a hindrance, but rather a benefit. Multisport participation leads to well-rounded athletes who also reduce their chance of burnout and injury. Furthermore, playing multiple sports does not decrease that athletes chance to achieve excellence in their primary sport. In a study conducted by the USOC, “The Path to Excellence: A View on the Athletic Development of U.S. Olympians Who Competed from 2000-2012,” the USOC conducted surveys to determine factors that determine an athlete’s success (coaches, parents, friends, financial support, motives, etc.). The study concluded that 70.53% of Olympians considered themselves to be multisport athletes, and Olympians played on average three sports per year until the age of 14and 2.2sports per year from the age of 15-18.

Therefore, the idea of the 10 year-10,000 hour theory is not that sport specification is necessary, butto the contrary. Kids should have fun and try many different sports. Below is a list of key points that researchers have determined were critical to an athlete’s success in the developmental process:

The CrossFit Fargo Youth program for ages 11-13 focuses on developing general physical preparedness (GPP) and teaching how that translates over to each athlete's chosen sports. This program will also teach your teenager how to be explosive and powerful in whatever athletic endeavor they choose to participate in. On top of that, because the workouts are constantly varied, they are less likely to fall prey to the overuse injuries that plague common training routines and year-round sports.

This program is designed for advanced youth and promises to challenge kids and teens of all athletic and fitness levels with measurable and repeatable results.

This program also builds leadership and teamwork skills, self-discipline, accountability and self-confidence.

CrossFit Fargo has adopted the USA Weightlifting’s Approach to Long Term Athlete Development:

USA Weightlifting has based its Long Term Athlete Development Model on the work done by Istvan Balyi and adopted by the US Olympic Committee. The model presented here follows the development of youth athletes through 8 stages: Active Start, FUNdamentals, Learn to Train, Train to Train, Train to Compete, Learn to Compete, Compete to Win and Weightlifting for Life.

The stages presented here are progressive in nature and give competition and training recommendations for the development of athletesfor long term competition. It is important to note that the developmental age of youth can be substantially different than chronicle age. It is thus up to the coaches and parents of your athletes to adapt this model to each individual athlete. Moreover, training age (the amount of experience the athlete has training in the sport) plays a huge role on the ability of the body to adapt to the stress of training at different loads and volume.

Despite the adaptability of youth and the big jumps in performance a new lifter may see, it is important for coaches to understand the limitations of youth in sport. Just because youth may appear to be more like adults does not mean they can or should be trained in the same manner.

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