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Improving Aggressiveness in Youth Athletes

“My child doesn’t show enough aggressiveness.” I hear those words weekly from parents who are confused about why other kids seem to be “tougher” than theirs.

 Although children occasionally may truly be less forceful in nature, nine times out of 10, kids hold back because they lack confidence in sport-specific skills. For instance, if your child is extremely good at baseball but seems disinterested in football, he just might not have the skill set to actually showcase his aggressiveness.

Teach your child the game, very thoroughly

Young basketball players know that a layup is worth 2 points. But do they know that each team is given three timeouts? Do they know they don’t need to shoot a 3-pointer if their team is up by 2 points with 20 seconds left? Do they know how to box out? Just knowing the game can dramatically help their confidence.

 Work extremely hard on skills

How can you take the ball to the hoop aggressively if you can’t dribble? You can’t. Skill work seems to be a lost art in today’s young athletic world. You rarely see kids drilling in their driveways because of all of their scheduled AAU time and training with basketball trainers. Playing AAU and working with a private coach are great, but there still needs to be an emphasis on the basics at home. It might be dribbling 500 times with each hand every night—or for baseball, throwing a rubber ball off a brick wall and working on hand-eye coordination. Working on basic sport-specific skills can boost confidence immediately.

Work on developing strength and speed

This is an issue I observe almost daily. As kids get stronger, they become more confident. It’s as simple as that. As they get better at drills and know how much work they’re putting in to get better, they play noticeably harder. What does an athlete have to lose if he puts no time in during the off-season? Nothing. Athletes who put the time in will most certainly take pride in their games, which will really ignite their aggressiveness.

 Be positive

It’s very easy to tell a kid who’s twice as big as everyone else on a football field to “go out there and knock their head off.” But it’s important to stay as positive as possible and reinforce good habits, not bad ones.

 

Random Thoughts

A big misconception with training is that it’s easy to produce results pertaining to athletic performance. For instance, if you simply get an athlete into better physical shape, they will get a little more athletic. But the gains that they made were purely based off of getting better conditioned. A good example is if you help a 16 year old girl who plays basketball lose weight through exercising and dieting, certainly she will be a little more athletic BUT you didn’t actually enhance any sort of physical outputs. This is why you hear trainers say “I can improve your 40 from a 5.0 to a 4.8 or increase your vertical by 6″ in one month.” It’s actually quite difficult to improve power outputs like that on an athlete who has been training and has been to their peak level of performance. There’s a ton of marketing involved, and it’s all BS. Also, another sad truth about training for sports is I would say 80% of trainers actually build athletes body’s the wrong way. The emphasis on quad dominant movements and extensive lactic conditioning for alactic sports has become an epidemic and instead of Strength Coaches coaching they make training HARD. They can tell someone to sprint, but can they anaylze running form or even know anything about stride length/stride frequency/levers/angles? It’s not about hard, it’s about smart. Instead of “putting that work in, yo” it may make some sense to do movements that actually train you for the demands of your sport. Kids come in every day that have been “training” for years but can’t even do a push-up without winged out elbows and a terrible pelvic tilt. Training is checkers not chess, it’s more than stupid YouTube videos featuring NFL players who have no idea how to train either, it’s more than gadgets and “Altitude masks” that literally do nothing to enhance performance and it’s more than sweating a lot and puking. If a surgeon messes up, you know. If a cook messes up, you know. Training is not like that unfortunately and there are quite a bit of “chefs” who’s food sucks but you don’t even know. GP the best in the business