Coaches Corner with CJ

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After settling down from a packed fall sports season here in Bergen County, NJ, we sat down with Christopher Jimenez (CJ), a Strength Coach for Paramus Catholic Football and Performance Coach at TNT Training in Paramus NJ, to discuss how we best set up our kids for successful athletic experiences, in a world of ‘every sport, every season’ culture. CJ specializes in the athletic development of youth to collegiate athletes, with an emphasis on achieving their utmost potential by establishing strong foundations and fundamentals.

Nowadays, many kids are participating in multiple sports per season. It used to be that kids would only participate in one sport each season, which gave them the opportunity to really build their skills and get a feel for the game and their ability to play it.

Today, kids are leaving practices early to get to another practice and prioritizing which game they want to attend each weekend, which can leave them with an incomplete understanding of the pros and cons of each sport. Being fully present with your team has now become a challenge. Often, kids will commit to a sport based on which of their teams has the best record, or on which they will play most, not always the best way to decide where to put their time and effort.

One suggestion for helping your kid decide which sport is right for them is, don’t decide. Or rather, don’t compete, at least not right away. Let the full experience play out. Instead, try and put your child into a class or training environment where they have exposure to a variety of different types of athletes.

For younger kids, this might be multi-sport recreational classes offered at a gym or field. For older kids, rec leagues or summer camps or classes could be a low pressure, low stakes way for them to try something new. If they show an aptitude and an interest in a new sport, you can consider taking it to the next level and look for a team for them to join. Or maybe it’s just an informal league where they can continue to work on their skills in an environment that is one step up from drills. Check out the classes offered at your local YMCA, the JCCs, your town rec leagues, or multi-sport facilities.

Another thing to consider is reframing your perspective by thinking of your child not as a player of a specific sport, but as an athlete. Offering kids athletic training that includes strength, agility, flexibility, and speed training will help them, no matter what sport they choose. Performance coaches/trainers will work to ensure that all muscle groups develop, in alignment, helping to avoid future injuries. Training that improves coordination, stamina, and resilience is also critical in developing a well-rounded athlete. Considering strength, agility, flexibility, and speed training will also give athletes the chance to use muscles, traditionally not used, in a different way than they’re used to and will give them more tools in their arsenal when they return to their primary sport(s).

The key thing to remember is that athletics and playing on a sports team should be fun!! Statistics show that close to 70% of young adolescents reach burn out by the age of 12 when they regularly participate in more than one sport in a single season. Athletes cite stress, dissatisfaction with the sport, lack of passion, and lack of focus for their burnout. Ensuring that kids who do participate in more than one sport each season have adequate down time, sleep, and nutrition is key. Make sure that they still get to play the game just for fun; having a catch in the backyard rather than throwing against a rebounder, a pickup game of basketball rather than drills, are all important ways to maintain their love of the game.

Just as critical? Ensuring that your child takes some time off from their sport so their bodies can restore and repair and also, making sure kids still have time to hang out with their friends in ways that don’t involve sports, attend birthday parties, interact socially, and just be kids. Balance is critical!

Becoming a well-rounded athlete teaches kids valuable lessons about collaboration, personal achievement, and resilience. Belonging to a team brings pride, comfort, and a sense of purpose. Luckily, there are so many sports to choose from, it’s certain that every kid who wants to play will be able to find their place.

Thanks for this valuable advice, and reminder, CJ! Bring on the winter sports!

Christopher Jimenez
Cell: 201-294-8647
Social: IG & TikTok @_cjtnt_

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