The pandemic has affected youth sports and the activity levels in California like nothing we have ever seen before. State regulations allow for “training” with restrictions, although many teams continue to practice and play games out of state. While some are trying to maintain some sort of normalcy, others are more limited, not having access to certain club or high school sports activities. Many of these athletes have become even more sedentary at this time.
What has been concerning is hearing from athletes who have been practicing on a somewhat normal basis that they are out of shape. These athletes are practicing 2-4 times a week, training with a strength coach 1-2 times a week, and playing games a couple of weekends per month. So how are they out of shape? As strength coaches, we typically do not work on a lot of conditioning during the season because the athletes condition at practice, so why is this happening? I sat down with a parent who is also a teacher and asked him this question, and his response made total sense. Look at what they are doing when they are not training. Most kids are either in a hybrid format for school or fully online, so what are they doing all day? They are sitting in front of a computer, lying on the couch, or in bed. They may only be getting six total hours of activity a week due to the pandemic. Kids aren’t at school every day, so they miss simple activities of walking around school, going up and down stairs, engaging in PE class, or just playing with friends. This inactivity may be leading to the reduced conditioning levels in sports.
So what can we do to get our kids more active?
- During online school, have your kids get up and move around in between classes just like they would if they were in school. They can walk around the house, go up and down the stairs, stretch, or even do some body weight squats, push-ups, or sit ups.
- Schedule times to be active. Before school, after school, or before dinner, schedule 30-60 minutes to be active. Activities can include practicing your sport, such as shooting pucks or dribbling a basketball, going for a run, going to a park and running sprints, or following online workouts.
The pandemic has led to physical inactivity which can be altered safely to improve the health and fitness of our kids. It just takes a little effort.
Chris Phillips is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 20 years of experience in professional hockey, soccer, and football. Chris has worked with hundreds of professional, Olympic and Hall of Fame athletes and is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, California. For more information, visit www.competeperformance.com.