As kids we are told to dream big. We are told to have aspirations to be great and to "shoot for the stars". So is it any surprise that it is common for children to want to be fireman, doctors, veterinarians, astronauts, or professional athletes? What did you want to be? I was a classic 80's & 90's kid that wanted to be like Mike. I was an obsessive Chicago Bulls fan and had Jordan posters plastered in my bedroom. I even had a habit of sticking my tongue out when I was concentrating, which thank goodness that faded over time. Although the odds of playing in the NBA are EXTREMELY bleak, 1 of 2,451 of men's high school players get drafted, I was still encouraged to chase that dream. Children with special needs are often not supported in such a way, although having similar dreams.
Every time someone is interested training with us at Specialty Athletic Training, we invite them to take a tour of the facility that is the most convenient for them. This gives them a chance to see the facility, meet with the trainer, and gain some understanding of what will be expected of them during the training session. It also gives us as trainers an opportunity to build a relationship with the client and learn more about their interests and their goals. These conversations often revolve around Minecraft, Marvel, and the latest YouTuber that recently went viral.
When I met my buddy Jack, the conversation started out in a similar manner. We chatted it up about Fortnite and swapped gamer tags. He saw the banners of the professional and Olympic athletes in the rafters of Boss Sports Performance, so we talked about each athlete and that is when he mentioned his own personal goal for coming to see me, going pro.
Jack is part of the Junior Wheelblazers and competes all over the Pacific Northwest. He wants to become a professional wheelchair basketball player.
His program is designed specifically to help him on the court. He needs the strength to pass the ball to his teammates and put up shots, so we do medicine ball exercises that increase his strength in various game like movements. He also needs to be able to have complete control of his chair and maneuver to get away from his defender, grab loose balls on the court, and play defense himself. We work on his core and upper body strength to give him the strength to control his chair, as well as the confidence to bend over and grab the ball off the ground as his chair continues to move forward.
His hard work is paying off. He is shooting the ball with ease and is a menace on defense. Keep dreaming big Jack and one day they'll be putting a banner in the rafters of you!
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the founder and head trainer of Specialty Athletic Training and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. He is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the Central Oregon Disability Support Network.