House of Sports’ Blaine Bott Promotes Childhood Physical Fitness

Blaine Bott has coached and trained athletes from a wide variety of sports—soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, golf, and rugby—since 2005. He’s even designed and implemented programs for the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. With all of that experience and a BS in Sport and Exercise Science, Bott, 32, is now the executive director of performance at the 8-month-old House of Sports, a 120,000-square-foot, $14 million, indoor athletic training facility and sports complex in Ardsley. He lives in Elmsford and works mainly with people ages 9 to 19.

Why should kids learn about the benefits of sports and physical fitness? The earlier they start, the better understanding they’ll have through life of how their body works and what’s good for it.

How do you start training a nine-year-old? With neuromuscular development. In other words, we make the kids’ brains develop good communication patterns with their muscles. It’s making the athletes understand their bodies. And then we progress them through the age groups. We also try to get them to [realize that] if they want their body to perform the best that it can, they need plenty of sleep, a full breakfast every morning, and a good lunch. At ages 12 and younger, they should be trained to develop, enjoy, and learn.

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What are good ways to interest a child in physical activities? Let her enjoy what she’s doing. Otherwise, she’ll shut it out and say, ‘I’m never going to do this again.’ And it’s more enjoyable to play team sports because you have camaraderie. I tell parents that if their son or daughter has a friend who wants to work out with them, then have their child do the same training that the friend is doing.

Why else is a team sport good? It teaches communication, how to talk to another person. It introduces you to people whom you [might not otherwise] be friends with. You’re forced to create relationships with each other.

What are some good approaches to get kids who aren’t naturally athletic involved in activities? Kids have to remember that sports are all about repetition. The more you do something, the better you get at it. We don’t want to lose the kids so early on. You have kids who say, ‘I’m not that athletic.’ So you ask him, ‘Well, how much did you really try at that sport? How much repetition did you do? How many times did you shoot that basketball, how many times did you kick that soccer ball?’ If you don’t like a certain sport, fine. But there is something out there that you can enjoy: karate, golf, tennis. Or going for a run. [Runners] don’t have to win against their competitors; you can compete against yourself. ‘I ran a 5K in 30 minutes; next time I want to run a 5K in 25 minutes.’

How can parents convince their kids to get active? It definitely starts with the parents. It’s getting involved with your kids, taking them to the gym, enrolling them in different things. And a lot of it is trial and error. The simple solution to video games is to unplug the device and take it away.

â–º For more from the 2013 Health and Fitness Supplement, click here

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