Health and fitness professionals often focus on how many kids are overweight. However, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that not exercising is a higher risk factor for all-cause mortality than being overweight or obese (Ekelund et al. 2015).
This is encouraging news for kids, adolescents, parents and fitness professionals because it indicates that overweight kids may not be as unhealthy as we think they are. It also suggests that kids who are obese and who exercise or play sports can be healthy. This is strong motivation for parents to involve their obese kids in sports training, or to encourage them to stay involved if they already are.
If you want to coach youth to reach their sports training goals, consider these eight keys to quality youth development, created by educators at the University of Minnesota Extension:
- HELP YOUTH FEEL PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY SAFE.
Trainer’s tip: Set boundaries and expectations with both the clients and their parents early on. Be a good role model and create a safe environment.
- ENCOURAGE YOUTH TO EXPERIENCE BELONGING AND OWNERSHIP.
Trainer’s tip: Create a T-shirt with the name of your business or program for clients to wear so they feel part of something larger. Offer small-group training opportunities.
- DEVELOP SELF-WORTH
Trainer’s tip: Empower young clients to complete difficult tasks, such as motor skills they find challenging.
- PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SELF-DISCOVERY
Trainer’s tip: Challenge clients by giving them a new sense of purpose. Help them identify themselves as healthy, strong individuals with potential.
- DEVELOP QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEERS AND ADULTS
Trainer’s tip: Mirror healthy interactions by being proactive and professional with parents. Talk positively about school, and encourage community involvement.
- DISCUSS CONFLICTING VALUES AND HELP CLIENTS FROM THEIR OWN BELIEFS
Trainer’s tip: Be honest and keep an open-door policy to discuss issues that come up in training. Listen to clients and validate their feelings. Know and respect each client’s basic family values and culture.
- ENCOURAGE YOUTH TO FEEL THE PRIDE THAT COMES WITH MASTERY AND ACCOMPLISHMENT.
Trainer’s tip: Include clients and parents in the program design and give them access to ways of tracking progress.
To read a more in-depth discussion about helping kids get fit, please see "Youth Athletics: Put Excitement Back Into Play" in the online IDEA Library or in the May 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.