Next year our district, the Independence School District, is taking some pretty bold steps that I believe have the potential to generate some huge positive effects in our community and school district.
The first step is aligning the middle schools and high schools that are currently in our district. Next year, Bridger Middle School will become a 6th grade center; Bingham Middle School will be comprised of students living in the Chrisman HS attendance zone, and Pioneer Ridge Middle School comprised of students living the Truman HS attendance zone. Nowlin Middle School will continue to feed Van Horn High School, as it currently does. The hopes are that aligning our schools will improve and ease student transition to high school in all areas: academics, athletics, music, forensics, etc.
The second step is adding to and enhancing the middle school physical education curriculum. We currently have one option for middle school PE – a lone Physical Education class. Next year there will be three options for 7th and 8th graders:
- Strength Training and Conditioning
- Personal Fitness and Wellness
- Physical Education
The Physical Education class will essentially be the same class we are teaching now. The Personal Fitness and Wellness class will focus on aerobic fitness, flexibility, pilates, yoga, etc. Of course the offering I am most excited about as a teacher and coach is the Strength Training and Conditioning course.
This course curriculum will be aligned with the corresponding high school Strength Training and Conditioning course. Our district has also committed to outfitting each schools weight rooms with equipment needed to safely, effectively and efficiently teach and train our students.
As soon as the decision was made, some teachers (yes, some PE teachers) and some coaches (yes, some athletic team coaches) were questioning the efficacy of strength training with 7th and 8th grades boys and girls. The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), THE authority on strength training and conditioning, published the first position statement paper on youth resistance training in 1985 and revised this statement in 1996. A more recent 2009 report was based on an even more comprehensive analysis of the pertinent scientific evidence regarding the anatomical, physiological, and psychosocial effects of youth resistance training.
I am highlighting some of their findings in case you find yourself in the position of having to justify a strength training and conditioning program for your younger students and athletes. The terms youth and young athletes are broadly defined in this report to include both children (up to age 12) and adolescents (ages 12-18).
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is relatively safe for youth.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can enhance the muscular strength and power of youth.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of youth.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve motor skill performance and may contribute to enhanced sports performance of youth.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports- related injuries.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of youth.
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help promote and develop exercise habits during childhood and adolescence.
Some of the NSCA recommendations – I have provided links to posts of mine dealing with these issues:
- Begin with relatively light loads and always focus on the correct exercise technique. See post Sets, Reps and Cycles
- Perform 1–3 sets of 6–15 repetitions on a variety of upper- and lower-body strength and power exercises – See Posts – A Weekly (not weakly) Workout and Supplemental Lifts, and Sets, Reps and Cycles
- Focus on symmetrical muscular development and appropriate muscle balance around joints – See Post – How Do You “Skin the Cat”?
- Sensibly progress the training program depending on needs, goals, and abilities – See Post – Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency
- Increase the resistance gradually (5–10%) as strength improves – See Post – Breaking, It’s a Good Thing!
- Begin resistance training 2–3 times per week on nonconsecutive days See Post – 3 Day a Week Workout Program
- Use individualized workout logs to monitor progress – See post – Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency
- Keep the program fresh and challenging by systematically varying the training program – Throwing a “Changeup”
- Optimize performance and recovery with healthy nutrition, proper hydration, and adequate sleep – See post – Don’t Take the “Light” Day Lightly
- Support and encouragement from instructors and parents will help maintain interest – See post – Strength Training and “At Risk” Students
I am looking forward to implementing this type of program with our Middle School students in the Independence School District!
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org