How Cross-Training in Martial Arts Benefits Kids
“Cross-training” involves engaging in two or more sports. Cross training provides fitness, variety, academic and psychosocial benefits and prevents injury to young athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids cross-train on a regular basis. Cross training that includes martial arts is especially beneficial because martial arts is also a total body-and-mind exercise.
The ABCs of Cross Training
Cross-training ABCs is an excellent way to improve conditioning for young athletes, advocates Mark Verstegen, performance coach to Major League ball players. A = agility, B = balance, C = coordination, S = speed. The ABCs are vital skills to become a good athlete and develop a variety of other skills, muscle groups and game senses.
Good Academic Grades
The American College of Sports Medicine reveals the link between physical activity in children and academic performance: active children perform better in school, are better able to concentrate, possess stronger self-esteem and self-belief, have improved motor skills, cooperation and teamwork. Non-athletic children can benefit from non-competitive activities such as biking, swimming, jogging, dancing or playing games like tag.
Cross Training martial arts with other sports such as football, soccer, baseball or lacrosse, provides physical and mental conditioning, strength-training, and flexibility. Year-round fitness is important for kids to get into shape so they have more fun and become a more successful player.
Conditioning and rest are important keys to preventing injuries. The body gets imbalanced if your child only plays one sport without any other conditioning sports. Insufficient rest after an injury results in overuse injuries to muscles and bones. About half the injuries in middle and high school students are overuse injuries.
Athletes who are also martial artists may experience diverse psychosocial traits such as goal setting, encouraging good moral and ethical development, personal growth, initiative, self-discipline, being more focused on school and an ability to work with others.
A Coach/Mentor’s Role
Youth coaches make a great commitment to a sport, but it’s also a huge responsibility. The instructor acts as a positive role model, influences the athlete’s behavior through modeling, provides your child with the support, encouragement and guidance when he/she needs it the most, and inspires your child.
An Example: From the Head Coach, Frisco Bulldogs youth football team
“As a youth football coach, I love to get a kid on my team who is training at Warrior Martial Arts Academy, as I consider football a martial art. The techniques used in both football and the mixed martial arts style taught at Warrior Martial Arts Academy are very similar regarding using their hands, foot placement and leverage; so teaching our football techniques to boys who have already learned similar techniques in their martial arts training is much quicker, as the techniques translate so well across both sports. An additional benefit that is not just related to sports; the boys who have martial arts training are generally more confident and disciplined than boys who have not received the training.”
In addition to training bodies, athletics helps shift young athlete’s mindset to become more conscientious. Martial arts are a complimentary sport for enhancing athletic skills.