Why Athletes Today Need Physical Literacy More Than Ever

It's funny how in our earlier years we tend to roll our eyes at an adult using some variation of the phrase "In my day, we used to...."
But then as we get older, we sometimes slip into that exact same mindset.
One of those the things that seems to have been far better years ago is the way our predecessors developed physical literacy.
Physical literacy refers to the basic movement skills we need to perform fluid, athletic movement.
Think of things like skipping, jumping rope, climbing, and so on. Most of them are not specific sport skills, they are more general in nature.
But mastery of these skills has a profound effect on our ability to move and play sports with athleticism.
Today, physical literacy is limited for most kids due to one of two reasons.
One group plays sports that have become highly specialized early on, often giving little attention to more general athletic movement.
The other group is sedentary most of the time, which minimizes the development of their physical literacy foundation.
Although the sedentary youth population has the obvious health risks all of us face with limited activity. the year-round sports kid has an equally concerning problem.
Specifically, a poor physical literacy foundation is causing three major problems:
1) In sports where one side of your body does most of the work (throwing, hitting, etc) kids develop asymmetries in their strength and flexibility.
We know from decades of research that when one side of your body moves differently than the other, you are at a prime risk for injury.
2) The lack of coordination and basic stability that is missing oftentimes creates awkward landings or changes of direction that creates a self-inflicted, non-contact injury.
3) That same lack of coordination and stability leads to poor movement patterns, most notably in sprinting and jumping form. These technical inefficiencies cause chronic aches and pains.
If you spend any time around youth sports, you'll probably never go more than a month or two without seeing these problems crop up for someone you know.
They're that common today.
Luckily, the solution to slowing down these problems are not only proven, they've been around forever!
Build a base of fundamental movement skills instead of spending all your time specializing in sport skill development.
One simple way for kids to do this on their own is to spend a few minutes a day jumping rope.
Once you get a base level of competency, jumping rope creates a more rigid lower body while enhancing your overall coordination and rhythm.
Phys ed teachers and sport coaches can integrate more basic movements into their warm ups or lesson plans - crawling, climbing, skipping and other basic bodyweight movements widens the skill set kids need to stay healthy and move more athletically in sport.
We of course do this for our kids here at our facility, but the more a kid practices these foundational skills the better off they'll be.
To be clear, we are not talking about weightlifting here, which is a different type of training.
We want effortless, coordinated movement.
Something that seems so simple, yet is so lacking in most of our young athletes today.

Build Your Skills One Step At A Time

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