Developing Healthy Student-Athletes at Pacific Ridge School
According to non-profit Common Sense Media, teens consume an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day, with tweens averaging six hours. With that kind of online connectivity, it’s important for adolescents and teenagers to develop healthy physical, mental, social and emotional skills. School athletics can help build all of these, and the best environments are those in which students are supported by athletic and academic mentors, along with their peers.
The athletic program at Carlsbad’s Pacific Ridge School is designed to help student-athletes in grades 7-12 thrive, both on and off the field.
The program launches in middle school, where students from all skill levels are challenged, whether they’ve never picked up a lacrosse stick or are a seasoned soccer star. Unlike at larger schools, every student at Pacific Ridge has a place on a team appropriate for their skill level, and receives valuable one-on-one time with experienced coaches and trainers.
Middle school students at Pacific Ridge participate in a sport of their choosing, working on skills every other day and playing against teams throughout north county. Players at all levels build physical and mental skills, resulting in a competitive program. Last year four teams (boys lacrosse and volleyball, girls soccer and basketball) won their respective league championships.
The developmental successes of the middle school program translate to competitive upper school teams at Pacific Ridge, yielding multiple CIF championships and athletes who go on to play in college. In addition to winning and developing a competitive edge, the school’s positive athletic culture focuses on commitment, passion and accountability. All student athletes are taught and expected to play with integrity and maintain the highest standards of character and sportsmanship. Coaches, many of whom are also teachers, provide key mentorship.
Pacific Ridge School athletics uses high-level conditioning and injury prevention program. The school partners with NAKOA, a team of elite sports performance coaches located in Carlsbad. Together with the school’s coaches, NAKOA incorporates its comprehensive approach to strength, conditioning, speed and agility into all sports team training and PE classes.
Through practicing proper body mechanics and athletic movement, athletes develop skills that translate across all sports and physical activities. NAKOA coaches also work with the school’s athletic trainer on injury recoveries, often attending games to track athletes’ progress and monitor their health and well-being.
According to Don Collins, Pacific Ridge’s Interim Director of Athletics, the school’s approach is a win-win for helping students stay healthy and balance the sedentary draw of screen time. “When you combine our developmental and competitive program, character emphasis and partnership with NAKOA, our student-athletes are getting the best out of their school athletic experience. It sets them up for the future, whether they are passionate about a sport and want to compete in college or just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
How do beginners build proper body movement?
Here is NAKOA’s top five tips to get you started with the proper foundation and mindset.
- Learn to move better before deciding to just move often. Having a fearless mindset will help athletes excel but we strongly believe in training smarter, not harder. Building proper movement patterns are reinforced with practice. Watch games and study professional athletes’ movements. Coaches also serve as a valuable resource for teaching proper body mechanics.
- Choose quality over quantity. To prevent injury, make sure to be doing quality reps. When quality is sacrificed, so is safety and injuries often occur. Our goal is to create programs that decrease risk of injury. After all, progress can’t be made from the sidelines.
- Practice, practice, practice. Commitment, consistency, and dedication trumps talent in the long game of being masterful at movement and sport. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice does.”
- Keep an open mind. Exposing yourself and your kids to a variety of movement early builds confidence and awareness in how movement works and decreases the chance for injury throughout life.
- Attitude is everything! A good attitude can do wonders in sports, and the converse is also true. Set the tone for the whole team, after all, you’re out there to have fun!
Families interested in learning more about Pacific Ridge and its athletic program are invited to an Open House on Saturday, December 1, at 1:00 p.m. To register, visit www.pacificridge.org/openhouse or call 760.448.9820