Agility clinics help lift performance, cut injury
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By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
Every time an athlete goes down to a non-contact injury, the first thought is about his or her well-being.
The second thought often is whether it was preventable.
There have been many studies on non-contact injuries, which are puzzling because they can result from the simple act of landing, cutting or stopping.
The goals of the Hawaii Optimum Performance sports agility clinics are to teach techniques that can reduce these injuries — usually to the knee — and improve athletic performance.
HOP alternates speed and agility clinics every other Sunday morning at Moanalua High School gym. (The clinics are on a break and resume Jan. 14.)
Last Sunday, 25 youths attended an agility clinic.
"It's good to teach them now before they get to high school. By then they'll have bad habits," HOP co-owner Kevin Chang said.
Chang, co-owner Ross Oshiro and staff members analyze the participants' strides, vertical jumps and shuffle steps in hopes their instruction will prevent bodies from breaking down later. They also teach efficiency, which translates into faster, more explosive movements and less wasted motion.
Michele Bray brought her son Kahekili and daughter Kahala to Sunday's clinic.
Kahekili, 11, attends Punahou School and Kahala, 13, goes to Kamehameha.
Both are playing club soccer.
"They can improve agility and learn correct form. It helps with their athleticism," Michele Bray said. "And injury prevention is a big one."
Sunday's clinic had three stations — quick feet, jumping and lateral movement.
Chang corrected most of the participants at the jumping station, where they were instructed to do a series of jumps straight up and land in a bent-knee position.
"You don't want your knee to go inward or cave in," he said. "You want your knees over your toes and shoulders over your knees."
HOP instructors don't just demonstrate the drills and have the athletes follow suit. They explain to the youngsters the purpose of the drills.
"It helps when they tell us. It's not just pointless movements," said Kekai Nuuhiwa, a 13-year-old at Punahou who plays club volleyball.
He added the drills are "catchy," and "aren't done at other clinics."
Josie Bailey and husband Sam, a defensive backs coach at Wai'anae High, brought son Sam, 10, to Sunday's clinic.
"It's great that he can learn the fundamentals and how to be more agile and not to get hurt," Josie said. "My son can take (the techniques) home and apply it."
Sam, the father, videotaped the session so his son could watch himself later. His son, who attends Ka Waihona O Ka Na'auao Elementary, plays baseball.
Chang, who said there has been a rise in sports clinics recently, added: "We tell parents to see what their kids are doing. They can do these things at home. If they can recall just one or two things they can implement it for their child."
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at email@example.com.