In addition to training athletes in the weight room and on the field, I consult with parents, coaches, and athletes about strategies to prevent injuries. I get questions almost weekly with concerns about young pitchers experiencing arm injuries and/or pain. It’s common for parents and coaches to ask for exercises to improve arm strength and flexibility. While focusing on the throwing arm seems logical, pitching injuries have more to do with overuse, along with deficits in trunk and lower body strength and mobility.
Speed and agility are essential for success in almost every sport, yet few parents, coaches, or athletes understand how to safely and efficiently develop those components. While genetics determine an athlete’s potential for speed and quickness, the nurturing of those innate abilities determines how closely the athlete reaches peak potential.
Studies indicate, and parents can verify, that the creativity of free play—without interference from adults—helps kids learn leadership skills, conflict resolution, and problem solving. And for developing motor skills, core strength, agility, balance, and coordination, free play is essential.