Performance Physical Therapy

Get Your Child Ready for Fall Sports!


Get Your Child Ready for Fall Sports!

Back to School SportsCan you feel it in the air? No, I don’t mean the heat and humidity. I mean the fast approaching school year starting again!

If you have a middle schooler like I do, this may be the first year that your child is able to participate in school- based sports. I just got my introductory letter for cross country! Being the good parent that I am, I want to prepare him for fall sports so that he is safe from injury and gets enjoyment from exercise and competition. After all, I treat sports injuries every day in my practice, so I should know what I am talking about! However, since I am his father, he has discounted any knowledge that I could possibly have (isn’t that just like a pre-teen?!).

So, this article is my attempt to help all you parents out there with fall sport preparation, since you obviously don’t know what YOU are talking about either!!!

Let’s go over the main areas of concern for your pre-teen athlete, and how you can help prepare for fall sports. You are not too late to take these steps to make September a piece of cake without injury or complaints!

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As a pre-teen, there is no need to be lifting weights. We recommend using your child’s body weight as resistance. I like to keep things simple. Simple is good! For upper body strength, regular pushups can’t be beat. If they are too much, do modified pushups from the knees, rather than the feet. My son started the summer only being able to do 5, now he does 40! ( I don’t tell him that he can do more than me!). For lower body strength, split squat jumps are fantastic. They build not only leg strength, but also explosive leg strength. For both of these exercises, have your child do as many as they can, only one set per day, and they are finished strengthening! Yes, they can do this every day in August.


The most common areas of tightness that we see in young athletes are tight hamstrings and quadriceps (front and back of thighs). Even if your child is active, growth spurts, sitting, and playing too much X box can result in leg tightness. The key to stretching is to hold the stretch for 30 seconds minimum (By the way, that is FOREVER to a pre-teen, unless they are texting a friend!). We love using a looped strap to stretch out legs! They are inexpensive, easy to take anywhere, and can be used to irritate younger siblings nicely if given the chance.[/su_note]

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Coordinated movement and the ability to control one’s body while moving is a major skill that needs practice in order to minimize risk to injury. To work on agility and balance, try to make a contest out of basic exercises. For example, challenge your child to stand on one foot only while brushing their teeth. Bet them that you can stand on one foot longer than them. See if they can walk around the house one foot in front of the other. Challenge them to go get the mail by shuffling down the driveway. You already embarrass them, so you might as well really go overboard! Try walking on hands and feet only (like a bear) for a reward of dessert after dinner. The possibilities are endless!


The most effective thing to do is to make a graph or spreadsheet of the month. Sundays and Wednesdays are rest days. Start Monday running easy 15 minutes, Tuesday run 15 minutes easy, Thursday run 15 minutes moderate speed, Friday run 15 minutes fast, Saturday run 15 minutes easy. Add 5 minutes each week to this schedule. (Yes, my son can beat me at this activity as well!)

So by doing little things almost daily, your pre-teen can be in great shape for the start of the fall sports season. Hey, maybe if I train with my pre-teen, perhaps I can embarrass him by beating him in a push up contest while wearing my speedos! Now THAT’s good parenting!!

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