Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Advanced Skipping

by Milo Bryant, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, TPI-CGFI, FMS, USATF

First, we'd like to thank Perform Better for giving us this outlet to discuss youth fitness. The Coalition for Launching Active Youth is all about bringing back the fun and enjoyment of movement that many of us had as children.

The C.L.A.Y. advisory board is comprised of a group of radicals – so to speak – folks who do not mind bucking the mandates of the status quo in efforts to give our children childhoods filled with thought-inducing movement.

We want to alter the future by going back to a past where, after assembly, the original play station came with a swing and a slide – not a joystick controller. We want to see children enjoy school again and not just endure it. We want to see young minds kinesthetically and vestibularly confront obstacles, fail and fail again only to learn from each challenge, eventually overcoming them, and succeeding.

We train individuals and groups, giving them two important things: a comprehensive understanding of the magnitude of what they will deal with in today's youth health fitness arena and, more importantly, the tools to win the battles.

Again, a big thank you to Chris and the rest of the Perform Better staff.

On to this month's topic.

Every C.L.A.Y. athlete gets assessed – no matter how young the athlete may be. Failure to assess a new athlete means you're merely guessing what needs to be done to help that person improve.

We begin our assessment with the fundamental movement skills: skipping, hopping, shuffling, throwing and kicking. Today, we'll go over the skipping assessment. We will cover the rest in the coming months.

Skipping

Skipping is a critical aspect of the locomotor gamut. It's a signpost that points toward the abilities the athlete will have with efficiently performing higher-intensity cross-patterning activities. Skipping is asymmetrical in the gait. There is a step-hop motion with one leg, then the same step-hop motion with the other leg. Meanwhile, in the advanced skipper, the arm opposite the leg swings in rhythm with the leg.

Alone, skipping is simply a means of joyful transportation for many youngsters.  For the strength and conditioning professional it's a critical step in figuring out maturation of an athlete. Running with proper efficiency is nearly impossible without the ability to skip. Skipping shows the fitness professional an athlete's ability to disassociate the lower body from the upper body and coordinate the both sides of the body. This cross-crawl patterning – along with the disassociation, helps reveal a neural control that is evident in any sport. If the athlete has difficulty skipping, then the fitness professional can begin to "peel back layers" to find the young athlete's most advanced movement ability.

Can't skip – go back to marching.
Can't march – go back to crawling.
Can't crawl – go back to rolling.
Can't roll – go back to core control.

What to Look for During the Skipping Assessment

Beginners – Show more of a step hop or a multiple step hop.  There may be a galloping motion with this group. Their arms are not coordinated with the opposite side of the body. Both arms might swing simultaneously. Knee lift will be high – with femur almost or beyond parallel to the ground.

Intermediate – The step hop has more rhythm to it. Arms might be coordinated 50% of the time.  Knee lift will not be as high, and the hop less jerky.

Advanced – Complete movement is smooth and coordinated with the athlete's opposite arms and legs in rhythm. Athlete is landing on the balls of the feet or there is a smooth heel-to-toe motion.



Coach Milo is the founder of the Coalition for Launching Active Youth (C.L.A.Y.), whose mission is to encourage childhood physical activity and healthier lifestyles by giving youth trainers, youth coaches and youth community leaders the tools needed to facilitate effective and fun athletic – and movement – specific programs for all ages.

To find out more about C.L.A.Y. and the C.L.A.Y. Coach Certification, contact Coach Milo at movingthefuture@gmail.com.