Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Much Exercise Does Your Practice Provide?

It is widely accepted that youth sports are beneficial for general health and obesity prevention. Experts recommend an hour of moderate to rigorous physical activity per day. But a new study conducted by San Diego State University and UC-San Diego suggests what we may have suspected about organized team sports practices.

Researchers placed accelerometers on 200 young soccer, baseball and softball players aged 7-14 to measure how much activity they were getting in practice. The findings show that overall, only 24% of participants met the one hour recommendation during their team's practice. Baseball, and especially softball players, got significantly less physical activity. Check out the study for all the details.

This tells us that (1) team sports aren't enough - school PE and neighborhood recreation are very important to the health of our nation's youth, and (2) our practices could probably include more exercise.

How can we get our players moving more in practice? Here are some ideas. If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment below.

- Have the team run a couple of warm-up laps before starting. This, followed by stretching, also helps prevent injuries.

- Practice baserunning often. Baserunning is a quarter of the game (pitching, hitting, fielding and baserunning) and often gets neglected.

- Utilize stations to keep the players engaged and minimize standing around waiting. Use the nets and batting cages for hitting stations like tees, soft toss and BP.

- After your instruction periods, reward the team with an intrasquad scrimmage or quick game of Pull-the-Trigger. This not only gets the players moving, but it's fun and sends them home wanting more.

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