Kettlebells, Kids and Athletic Conditioning

I spent this past Saturday an hour east of the city coaching at my daughter's volleyball tournament. My daughter and her team are all 11 year-olds in the 6th grade playing up a division (they play against kids that are a year older than they are) because they don't have a division for her age.

 The tournament experience went well and they battled the home team for a 5th place finish. Not bad for a bunch of kids who have never played competitive volleyball together before.

 Durning one of our breaks, I sat down with one of the coaches from another team to shoot the breeze and talk about training, athletic development and our kids. He was a first year coach, just like me, and we were trying to pick each other's brains trying to find new and different methods to help our teams get better.

We talked about dynamic warm-ups, better methods for developing skills and the psychology & personality management that comes with coaching. We agreed on a lot of things.

But, there was one thing that he said that I completely disagreed with…

"We deal with a bunch of low-attention-span-11-year-olds. So when I can't get them to focus, I have them run laps. They hate running laps and never want to do it, so I figure,  that will motivate them to stay in line. Besides, they need an aerobic-base anyway right?"

This statement was so wrong on so many levels that I had no idea where to begin.  I have to admit, after he said that, anything else that came out of his mouth just sounded like the teacher from those Charlie Brown cartoon specials on CBS – "blah, blah, blah".

I completely shut down.

OK, so how do I liken kettlebell training with 11-year-olds playing volleyball?

Well first, the training method. I have 1.5hrs twice per week to teach a group of 11 year olds to pass, set, dig, attack and serve. That is not a lot of time.

So to waste my time and theirs running laps to build an aerobic-base that isn't needed in a purely anaerobic sport is irresponsible and almost criminal. (Their parents are pay good money to have me coach them. If I have them run laps, I'm taking valuable teaching time away from their kids).

As a coach, I want my kids to get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. As a trainer, I want the same thing for my clients. So to do something that is a complete waste of time and is not the most efficient method for fat loss is irresponsible.

If you read this blog, you already know that cardio isn't the best or most efficient way to burn fat.

Second, using exercise as punishment is a one-way street to turning any individual – child or adult – off of exercise permanently. 

How many times have I heard someone say that they are going for a run because they HAVE to. Not because they enjoy it, but because they feel obligated to.  Or that they have to do their penance on the treadmill because they ate 1/2 a chocolate cake on the weekend?

Do you think that in the long-run they would stick with their exercise program?

Absolutely not.

You need to partake in activities that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. 

I train with KBs, lift weights, run hills, ride my bike for transportation and eat healthy because I love the way those things make me feel and as crazy as it sounds, that kind of stuff is FUN for me.

Find something that's FUN for you and be consistent and stick with it. I don't care what it is, just do it because you love it.

Third, running laps has absolutely no functional carryover into playing any team sport (with maybe the exception of a midfielder in soccer – and that's a big maybe).

Think about it. What sport, other than running itself, has you moving in a single direction at a low intensity for more than 2 minutes at a time?

All team sports involve involve short bursts of intensity and then a period of recovery. In basketball, you run down the court stop to play defense moving forward, back and side to side and then sprint up the court, again moving in every direction to score a basket.

Soccer, football, lacrosse, volleyball all involve intense periods of multi-directional movement and then several seconds of doing nothing…recovering.

I once read that in an NFL game, in the entire 60-minute game, players are really only playing a total of 18 minutes.

Kettlebell training is the same thing. Short bursts of intense exercise followed by frequent intervals of recovery. It's like interval training with weights.

And we can both agree that working with weights and doing interval training is the most efficient exercise method for fat loss.  Right?

The bottom line to my rant (yes, it's a bit of a rant) is that people need to start analyzing exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it.

We don't have a lot of time to waste doing things that are inefficient or not effective anymore. We have families, friends, kids, jobs and lives that require our precious time…our life energy.

Why waste that life energy doing something that isn't effective or even worse, something that we don't love?

Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

TT Kettlebell Revolution


Be first to comment