The global pandemic put the sports world on pause, impacting professional athletes and youth players alike. For many kids, athletics are an important outlet and have a positive impact on mental and physical health. While we look forward to the day we can safely reunite on the field, there are ways children can stay connected to their sport, continue to improve, and gain competitive edge at home. Our youth coaches share their favorite cross-training exercises.  

Agility Ladder Drills  

Agility ladder drills improve speed and footwork. Athletes can work on acceleration, deceleration, changing direction, and moving forward and backward. You do not need to purchase an agility ladder to do these exercises. Use tape or floor tiles as your guide indoors or, if you have outdoor space, draw a ladder using chalk. Get creative with your moves. Do lateral high knees in and out of the squares, move forward and backward, or hop two feet in and two feet out of the ladder. Get some more inspiration.  

-Chris Cassels, Basketball Operations Director 


Core Work 

Power, explosiveness, and balance come from your core. When you shoot a soccer ball, for example, you squeeze your stomach muscles to generate power and use your core to keep your balance throughout the motion. Try the following plank variations at home to build core strength. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and repeat three times. Allow 15 seconds of rest in between each set. As you improve, you can increase the time or decrease the rest.  

  • Plank saws: Adding motion to a traditional plank works the shoulders and increases core activation. Start in a plank position on your forearms with your arms in line with your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line. Move your toes forward and backward.  
  • Shoulder taps: Start in a high plank position with your arms in line with your shoulders. Again, your body should form a straight line. Tap one hand to the opposite shoulder, return to start, then repeat on the other side. Keep your hips level throughout the movement. Pretend you have a tray of food on your back and you don't want it to slide off. If you're doing this right, you should feel this in shoulders, core, glutes, and hip flexors.  

-Nick Hunt, Asphalt Green Volleyball Club Director 


Cone Drills (Using Socks) 

Short sprints that involve changing direction improve lateral speed and engage those fast-twitch muscle fibers, improving your reaction time on the field or court. If you don’t have cones handy, use socks instead.  

Set up three socks in your living room in an L shape. Run to the first sock, then back to start. Then, run around the first sock to the second sock, and back to the starting line following the L shape. Record your time. Experiment setting up cones or socks in different shapes to encourage running in alternate directions. 

Chris Cassels, Basketball Operations Director  


Hip Lift March  

Activate your glutes to improve stability, strength, and power. Volleyball players, for example, use these muscles to jump high, spike the ball, and play defense. Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.  

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.  
  • Lift your hips off of the ground.  
  • Keeping your hips raised, lift one leg off of the ground. Return to starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.   

-Nick Hunt, Asphalt Green Volleyball Club Director  


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