Youth Athletes Can Learn a Lesson from Skateboarders

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Top trainers applaud boarders' athletic development. In their upcoming book, "Athletic Fitness for Kids" (© 2008, Human Kinetics), long-time NFL youth football director Scott Lancaster and celebrity trainer Radu Teodorescu stress the importance of developing overall fitness, an element that is often missing in sport-specific training.

Kickflips, bomb drops and 360 spins may look more like play, but skateboarders' non-traditional training environment promotes universal skill development. In their upcoming book, "Athletic Fitness for Kids" (© 2008, Human Kinetics), long-time NFL youth football director Scott Lancaster and celebrity trainer Radu Teodorescu stress the importance of developing overall fitness, an element that is often missing in sport-specific training.

"Skateboarders, snowboarders, and BMX riders have it right. These athletes focus on free-play with friends and on developing their creativity and athletic and fitness skills," Lancaster says. "These kids are now some of the most fundamentally sound and physically fit athletes among the new generation."

By practicing creative tricks and maneuvers, extreme athletes are able to develop all seven athletic components that Lancaster claims aid in a physically and mentally prepared athlete: agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, stamina, and strength. According to Lancaster, many of these components are overlooked in sport-specific training, resulting in athletes who are great in their specialization, but still struggle to improve their overall athletic performance.

"Many athletes don't reach their natural athletic potential and never achieve their ultimate peak performance because they didn't learn the basics when they were young," Lancaster says.

Young athletes often focus on one sport, participating in school and travel teams throughout the year. The repeated practices and drills allow body parts little time for rest and recovery. According to Lancaster, youth athletes need to incorporate movement training from all areas of fitness into practices and training sessions to avoid overspecialization and overuse injuries.

"Including variations of drills and many options for improving all areas of fitness, provides a way to balance activities and competitions to better develop and prepare athletes' future performance, health, and fitness," Lancaster says.

"Athletic Fitness for Kids" provides games, drills and exercises for the entire body and focuses on noncontemporary fitness programs that will challenge and entertain young athletes. For more information on "Athletic Fitness for Kids" or other fitness books, visit http://www.HumanKinetics.com.

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Patty Lehn
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