Free Coordination And Flexibility In Children Training Essay Example
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Children, Flexibility, Family, Training, Exercise, Sports, Coordination, Development
For both children and adults, a balanced fitness exercises consist not only of aerobic activity, but also flexibility exercises and strength training. Practicing flexibility and strength techniques with children has many advantages, such as preventing injuries, fast recovery after exercise, tension decrease, better coordination and balance, improved posture, increased bone/muscle endurance and strength, better motor skills, healthy weight, promotes healthy practices of lifestyle.
Training of strength does not mean weightlifting or bulking up that can strain kids’ developing tendons and muscles. In order to add strength and build muscles, children can use their own body weight. Activities like climbing trees, gymnastics, climbing on a jungle gym and jumping rope help children get healthier and stronger. Exercises like sit‐ups, pushups or squats can also improve tone of muscle. Older children can do more intense training or even apply light weights. However, kids younger than eight years old should use only the resistance of their body weight for strength training activities.
Flexibility means the ability to move muscles and joints to their maximum motion range. A child’s flexibility can be increased or maintained by stretching. Flexibility and stretching are useful for everybody, including children.
According to Hallford, there are two stretches forms: static and dynamic. Dynamic stretches use controlled and slow movements for the muscle stretch. Exercises for dynamic stretches may include jogging, brisk walk, high knees, arm circles, and rotations of hips. In any age, it is good for everybody to do dynamic stretches during 5‐10 minutes in order to warm up before any other exercises. Warm ups increase the flow of blood to the muscles. Static stretching means a method when a child stretches a specific part of the body and holds the position. Performing static stretches before exercise may provoke injuries because the muscles are not warmed up, so preliminary dynamic stretches is essential (Hallford, n.d.).
According to LU & DE LISIO, the main goal of physical education is to help children in the healthy lifestyle development, particularly to: regularly participate in physical activity as they think it is exhilarating and enjoyable; get skills that make possible to perform different of physical activities; develop skills helping them to be physically fit; show social and responsible behavior while physical activity; value and understand physical activity; think that physical activity may improve self-expression; and show a respect for and an understanding of everybody during physical activity.
Management. Classroom management in a subject of physical education will directly relate to the behavioral and organizational structure of the student body and class. Some of the significant issues faced by a coach or physical educator are as follows:
Discipline. Although instruction and appropriate content will be the best strategy to to keep discipline, the co-developing (student and teacher) rules and routines can also optimize time for classroom management.
Equipment. Collecting, distributing and returning equipment can also take teaching time and cause chaos during the lesson.
Time. In a typical physical education lesson, time is distributed amongst the following: instructional time, time for physical activity, and wait time” (LU & DE LISIO, 2009).
There are many different physical activity types that develop various aspects of physical fitness. The most important physical activity types for children and adolescents’ health are exercises involving cardiovascular (aerobic) work, exercises involving muscular and/or strength endurance and exercises involving flexibility and coordination.
Flexibility means the joints’ ability to move through a full motion range. Flexibility is specific to certain body parts and is a function of the involved types of joints and the muscles and connective tissue elasticity (e.g. ligaments, tendons) that surround the joints. Flexibility is good for all activities involving lunging, bending, reaching, twisting, and stretching.
Activities, which improve flexibility, are as follows: gentle muscles’ stretching, sports (like karate, gymnastics), Pilates, yoga, and any endurance or muscle strength exercises that work a muscle through a full motion range.
When children perform flexibility activities it is important to understand that:
The child should be patient. It takes some time to notice flexibility improvements, usually several weeks or even months;
The child should never exercise to the point where he feels pain and movements must be performed in a controlled manner without jerkiness or bouncing. Child should not make himself imitate another person who is more flexible, as it may cause injury;
The child should stretch on a regular basis (daily or at least several times a week). One loses flexibility quickly if he does not continue exercising, it helps to avoid injuries and it tends to decrease when they get older;
It is better to start flexibility activities at a young age (when people are most flexible) and to continue doing them later;
It is necessary to do stretching when joints and muscles are more pliable and warm. Thus, the perfect time to stretch is after a warm-up or after exercising as a cool-down part.
The flexibility differs between girls and boys (usually superior in the girls) and also during the life growth phases it is possible to notice significant flexibility decreases as the bones are growing more quickly than tendons and muscles.
According to Grasso, flexibility is a very important part of fitness. But it is just a small component of a real fitness. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding flexibility and a lot of non-reliable tools of measurement.
Flexibility is a mysterious part of the sport activity, surrounded by half-truths, by myths and opinion. Many coaches, trainers, and parents doubt the kind of flexibility activities children should do, time when they should do it, and the duration. The responses to these questions are significant for the children and how training of flexibility should be performed often relates to the financial sources and motivation.
The scope level of uncertainty regarding flexibility can be noticed when thinking about the assessment tools most often used to check the child’s suppleness. The ‘sit and reach’ test is often performed while pre-training checking, as the test for flexibility. In fact, many trainers and coaches stress on the fact that the ‘sit and reach’ is not the best assessment of child’s flexibility, and does not provide a clear understanding as to the overall suppleness a child may have. It also does not let the coaches to judge regarding any qualities that is significant, as dynamic flexibility is not the same as static flexibility, and dynamic flexibility is much more important.
The level of flexibility a joint can perform is not determined only by the pliancy or tightness of the muscles that are available on the joint. While muscle elasticity is a key aspect of flexibility, so are the corresponding ligaments elasticity and even the child’s emotional condition. Also, the muscle physical length may play a very important role in identifying the joint’s flexibility. Length of muscle significantly depends on genetics, but may be also influenced by the training of strength.
This does not support a myth that resistance or strength training improves flexibility. Also, as the muscle’s elasticity decreases with age (everybody considers it to be true), training of strength may also influence it positively. Strength training influences suppleness and flexibility in a positive way. Actually, when dealing with children, static habits of stretching can improve the ligament’s length and cause the instability in joint. It may cause bad posture and high dependence of joint stability on muscles. Flexibility and strength should work together to support development and reduce occurrence of injuries.
Regarding children, flexibility develops in accordance with the growth rate. The kinds of training, duration and frequency change with the ages of children:
Ages 6-10. Shoulder and hip mobility declines and dynamic activities for these two joints become necessary (rotations and raises in different directions). Maximum spine flexibility is reached by 8 or 9 years old age and the increases of ROM can be included, but it is not necessary and may be harmful.
Static stretching should not be practiced for this age group. Nervous system excitement is much more significant than inhibition that means that children of such age cannot perform a held stretch properly. They cannot receive the necessary body feedback to ensure the optimal effectiveness and safety of the stretch.
Also, isometric stretches (as in Yoga) should not be performed by children of this age. These stretches kinds can increase the muscle resting tone, which can badly influence coordination and movement skill. Yoga is good, but movement and coordination must dominate for children of this age.
Ages 10-13. Children’s body mass increases more quickly than height in this period, which causes strength’s increase. It is recommended to intensify flexibility training for kids of this age. Body mass changes and increases in strength may combine and cause poor bio-mechanical habits. Coaches should ensure that children incorporate full dynamic and ROM activities into training.
Ages 13-15. Height may increase up to one inch per month in this age. Supporting connective tissue and muscles grow as fast as bone, and it may cause pain in the body. Flexibility training should cover the areas that are prone to pain. It would include hamstrings, quadriceps and lumbar spine muscles. Reduced skill of movement, poor posture, and injury are among possible concerns of fast growth, but they can be decreased with the help of flexibility habits.
Ages 15+. In this age it is time to add sport-specific flexibility training means into child’s activities (Grasso, 2014).
According to Merino & González Briones, motor coordination is the ability to use the nervous system and brain together with the locomotor system to make precise and smooth movements.
Coordination exercises may include:
Balancing exercises that involve the body, such as balancing on one leg or walking on a beam;
Rhythm exercises, for example, dancing to music;
Exercises involving spatial coordination and kinesthetic awareness, for example, new dance learning or learning somersault perform;
Exercises involving coordination of foot and eye, for example, dribbling or kicking a ball;
Exercises with hand-eye involvement, for example, catching or throwing a ball and sports with racquet.
It is necessary to take into consideration the following aspects of coordination activities:
It is necessary to be attentive to avoid accidents and falls as children are often so engaged in these exercises that they are not aware of other people nearby and the surroundings;
Coordination exercises are very good for motor development, particularly for young kids;
The process of these skills learning is different for every child; some learn them fast, some more slowly” (Merino & González Briones, n.d.).
The best time for coordination development training is between six to fourteen years old. Thus, for the children between seven to twelve years old, coordination training has to be the principle part in their development. The motor potential of a child cannot be achieved without good coordination. Sports technique mastery is not possible without good coordination of movements. Coordination is the ability to use different body parts together efficiently and smoothly.
Coordination consists of seven aspects: balance (both dynamic and static), rhythm, spatial orientation, reaction speed (to sounds and sights), movement synchronization, kinesthetic differentiation, and adequacy movement.
In spite of the interconnection of all the aspects on some level, they may be individually developed with the help movement, drills or games. Below is the list determining each element and presenting some example of how to achieve each one.
Balance is the ability to keep equilibrium in relation to the gravity force. Static balance is the possibility to keep equilibrium when the body is stationary. Dynamic balance means the possibility of the body to control and maintain posture while moving. Exercises:
Standing on one foot during ten seconds, each repeat (put the other leg in back, front side);
Standing on one leg for ten seconds each leg, put arms in various directions;
Standing on one foot during throwing and catching a ball form the partner;
Standing on one leg for ten seconds, then jump and land on the second leg, balance for ten seconds and repeat;
In a position of all-fours bear crawl put one hand off the floor, change and do again;
In a position of all-fours bear crawl put left arm and right foot off the floor, hold, do again with the other leg and arm;
In a position of all-fours crab put one foot off the floor and hold while keeping position, change sides and do again.
Dynamic balance exercises:
Stand on one leg, jump side to side back from leg to leg in a motion of skating (skate jump);
Stand on one leg, leap as far as possible forward standing on the other leg, do again for preferred distance.
Rhythm sense is the possibility to make fundamental efficient movement in the time suitable to a proposed exercise. Exercises:
Running with short steps over short distance
Running with foot strikes
Spatial orientation is a part of kinesthetic perception. Kinesthetic perception is a term encompassing the awareness of movement and memory. It means the ability to sense the body or its parts position in space. Exercises:
Stepping under and over a line of high hurdles;
In a position of bear crawl, move on the coach command side to side.
Reaction speed is the possibility to respond quickly with movement to a certain stimulus such as sound, sight, or touch. Exercises:
Standing behind the child, coach throws a ball, the child sprints for the ball when it comes into view.
Movement synchronization. This is improved by exercises that include two or more limbs or body parts unrelated to movement, for example the trunk, neck, or hips. Exercises:
Clap hands and swing arms together skipping simultaneously;
During making circles with one hand, run with high knee.
Kinesthetic differentiation is the ability to finely adjust and discern the tension of muscles in movement to achieve a necessary result. Exercises:
Throw a medicine to far away and near targets;
Throw various weights medicine balls to the target.
Movement adequacy is the ability to move in a way as with a minimal effort to fulfill a task. This is a summary of all the above aspects.
According to Frisch, the training of the children is much more involved than most teachers think. Development of coordination should be a priority for children of seven through twelve years old. Programs of training for teenagers and adults differ significantly from programs for pre-adolescents. Coaches should remember that the goal with the children is to develop a psychological, physiological, and emotional basis to build further in later years.
All children are different in their development level. Some ten-year-old children grow quickly and look older, but in the relation to emotional maturity, they are much younger. This is the reason why training should be engaging and fun first of all. Place kids in an interesting environment and success will be achieved naturally. Coaches should remember that children are not adults and cannot be trained according to the adult programs” (Frisch, 2014).
Following conditions should be considered by the coaches:
The temperature of the gym, where children are training (warm temperature is more better to improve flexibility);
The time (in the afternoon most children are more flexible than in the morning);
The recovery process of a muscle (or joint) after injury (injured muscles and joints are usually less flexible that healthy ones);
Age (children are more flexible than young adults); gender (females more flexible than males);
One's interest in flexibility achieving;
Any equipment or clothing restrictions.
Sometimes, the joint muscles get too flexible. There is a tradeoff between stability and flexibility. As child gets more limber in a certain joint, the joint receives less support by muscles surround it. Too much flexibility may be bad as not enough, as both can increase the injury risk. When maximum length has been achieved by a muscle, the further attempts to stretch it more, stretch the ligaments and put tendons under the stress” (Grasso, 2014).
Physical education does not mean only sport, physical or other activity. It is an academic discipline that should use physical activity in order to achieve a goal in education. As a part of the process of education, physical education makes contribution to the general development and growth of all children. In contrast, physical activity may be defined as bodily movement performed by muscles that results in energy expenditure, and sport is an activity type that is often structured, planned, and governed by a set of customs or rules.
As we can see from the above information, flexibility and coordination are among the most important training elements for children. The coaches should take into account the age and individual peculiarities of every child during trainings. The correct approach to flexibility and coordination trainings helps children to grow and develop strong and healthy.
Frisch, J. (2014). Coordination Training for Future Champions. Breaking Muscle. Retrieved 13 January 2015, from http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/coordination-training-for-future-champions
Grasso, B. (2014). Flexibility in young athletes. Core Body Training. Retrieved 13 January 2015, from http://iceskatingresources.org/FlexibilityOfYouthAthletes.html
Hallford, K. Strength and Flexibility Tips for Kids. Retrieved 12 January 2015, from http://www.n-ltech.com/downloads/articles/Strength_and_Flexibility.pdf
LU, C., & DE LISIO, A. (2009). Specifics for generalists: Teaching elementary physical education. International Electronic Journal Of Elementary Education, 1(3), 171-184. Retrieved from http://www.iejee.com/1_3_2009/lu.pdf
Merino, B., & González Briones, E. Physical Activity and Health in Children and Adolescents. Ministry Of Health And Consumer Affairs, 16-19. Retrieved from https://www.msssi.gob.es/ciudadanos/proteccionSalud/adultos/actiFisica/docs/actividadFisicaSaludIngles.pdf