Compete to build elite middle schoolers

When you have a group of 11-14 year-old kids together, there are a few different things that might happen. Number 1: pure chaos. Number 2: some disorder, but still getting some work done. And Number 3: competition madness. I can't lie and say #1 and #2 don't happen a lot, but I try to make #3 happen as often as possible.

How do we do this? Creative competitions. For the past 3-5 months, I have been testing my athletes in a lot of different drills and establishing some norms. This has probably been one of the smartest things I have done in a long time. I have athletes come in every day and want to test their vertical or their long jump or their pro-agility. And you know what? I very rarely say no. Can you think of anything better then getting an athlete to do a maximal effort multiple times? Let me give you some examples.

You can have athletes compete in a lot of different things. They don't just to compete in agility drills. Here is Tera, one of our stud 12 year olds doing 3 continuous broad jumps for distance:

Here is Adrian, one of our elite athletes, doing 3 continous single leg broad jumps:

And what's the cool thing about having athletes of different levels do the same drills? They always have something to work towards. Athletes are wired to COMPETE. So when you take them out of their sport, and have them do Strength & Conditioning workouts, sometimes they don't understand what the point is. But, when you get them to compete, you put them back into their element and they understand winning or losing. Establishing norms for age groups has been the best thing for my athletes. 

The cool thing is that you have a lot of options for competitions. You can even compete in strength. Competing for strength in middle school athletes might look a lot different then high schoolers or elite athletes. None of my kids compete for maximal bench or squat, but they still compete. Watch this video of Marin, a 12 year-old softballer, competing in a game of Tug-of-war against Kristen, one of the coaches at Powerline.

Or we see how much weight they can pull/push on the sled. This video is one of our high school softball girls. For her next round of pulls/pushes, I hopped on the sled and made her pull/push me. I couldn't video tape that, for obvious reasons. Pretty impressive!

And just to show you that everyone likes a little competition, here is the mom of one of my 12 year-olds crushing the 4 minute plank record. The previous record was set by one of my most competitive 13 year-old girls, Livy. Livy, you have some work to do!

If you are working with youth athletes, consider making a record board. I know ours looks a little chaotic, but it works. It's actually had a recent face-lift, but here's what it looked like before. Get out there and set some records!