How to ensure kids are training for sports at right intensity, frequency

Posted at 7:10 AM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 07:10:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new school year is upon us, and with it comes another season of sports. We spoke with health experts regarding what is the appropriate intensity and frequency for your child to train. But how can parents make sure their kids are training at the right frequency and intensity appropriate for their age?

For Brenda Young, fitness has always been part of her lifestyle, playing sports growing up and eventually trading a future in design to one as a full-time group fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Now with two sons and a young daughter, she says, "I don't make them work out, but I feel they just see me teach boot camp class and work out, and it's just in their head, like, okay, this is what you should do in life. It's normal; it should be part of everyone's daily activities."

"For me, it was knowing that my mom and dad played basketball in high school always kind of made me want to play basketball," said 16-year-old Mason Meyers. "So that's what brought me into being athletic and playing sports."

Meyers is just one of many kids who play multiple sports year round, something clinical sports psychologist Dr. Eddie O'Connor says is best for kids. "You're developing your body in different ways and developing different agility skills," O'Connor said.

But when starting kids out with sport, Dr. O'Connor says parents have to be strategic in their approach. For young kids, it's really just about having fun.

"The idea is that a kid doesn't really care about winning or losing to the degree as we do as adults till about 13 years old. So, when we think they have to get competitive at 5 and have killer instinct at 8, it's not really developmentally appropriate."

"Kicking the ball, hitting it in the right way, developing the right skills, getting master control of their bodies, that's fun," O'Connor said.

But how do parents know when or if their son or daughter is ready to specialize in one sport, and how much is it okay to encourage that?

O`Connor says parents should always be led by the kid. Parents should check in with them every season.

"There's such a drop out in sports because of the way we regulate it," O'Connor said. "There's too much training and practice, too much structure and drills, and there's not enough free play."

For brothers Mason and Hayden, sports and training gives them a break from technology, and they love the camaraderie. And mom Brenda opened up her own garage to serve as a neighborhood boot camp for families to work out together.

"I think the best thing is to do it with your kids."

You can find more content and insight from Dr. Eddie O'Connor on his Facebook page.