Dear Coach: My son is eight and plays soccer, baseball and basketball. But he's very thin so he gets pushed around a lot. He wants to know how he can get stronger. What can he do?
NOT PUMPED UP
Dear Pumped: Traditionally, weight training for prepubescents has been discouraged out of fear it could damage a child's growth plates. However, according to Steve Kanter, head trainer for the New Jersey Gladiators Arena Football team, kids can start lifting as young as age eight, as long as they're carefully supervised. The best training program is to work with light weights no more than two or three times a week. Repetitions should be limited to a number the child can easily handle. Bulk lifting is a definite no-no. "Also, avoid nutritional supplements," says Kanter, unless your kid's doctor suggests a special diet for your son.
Dear Coach: My 12-year-old son is a good basketball player, but he has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As the level of play grows more complex, he's having trouble learning plays. What can he do?
Dear Losing: Kids with ADHD require special consideration from their coaches. "Work with your child's coach to make sure complex plays are broken down into smaller, more digestible units," says pediatric neurologist Robert Wolff. "Coaches also need to be patient when introducing new drills." In addition, says Wolff, check with your doctor about modifying your son's medicine schedule before practices and games. Tweaking his dosage at the right times can yield noticeable results.