Fast Fundamentals

One of the many things we look forward to each summer is watching our campers participate in our athletic program. There’s just something special about seeing our campers not only improve their sport-specific skills throughout the summer, but also witnessing how positive coaching can skyrocket self-esteem and confidence in less than four weeks.

We are always looking for new ways to improve every aspect of our camp program – that’s the only way we get better! As it relates to sports, we are excited to introduce our campers to FAST Fundamentals athletic training this summer. FAST (Fitness & Athletic Skills Training) is a brand new youth athletic development program that focuses on strengthening overall athleticism by improving coordination, speed, agility, balance, core strength, reaction and more! It does not matter where each child starts out athletically – FAST is for everyone. This summer, our coaches will be weaving aspects of the FAST curriculum into our existing athletic instruction for sports like basketball, baseball, football and lacrosse. Best part yet – FAST was founded by a couple of “camp guys” from the TLC Family so its program is designed with drill-based games, skill challenges and mini-contests, so campers of all skill levels are always having fun while participating.

With that in mind, we are excited to introduce our Timber Lake West family to Dave Skolnik, Director of Hampton Country Day Camp, and Jason Mercado, Associate Director of North Shore Day Camp, founders of the FAST Fundamentals athletic development program. We recently sat down with them to talk about how parents can work with their children to improve overall athleticism, the state of youth athletics and their advice for children interested in participating in athletics.

Why did you guys create FAST Fundamentals?
For years, we have been working towards building a customized athletic training program designed to maximize a child’s athletic potential while also developing their self-esteem, self-confidence and a lifelong love for physical activity. Most youth athletic programs hold group classes with a preset curriculum that children have to fit into. These classes often will not slow down or speed up for an individual child’s needs, as they must cater to an entire group of children. The problem is that every child is different in terms of their athletic strengths, weaknesses and stages of development which is why it is so important to be able to personalize the instruction. That was the idea behind FAST Fundamentals.
We created FAST with the goal of developing a program that would individually meet the needs of all types of growing youth athletes and even children who do not consider themselves “athletes”. Whether a child is just beginning to develop the coordination skills necessary for future athletic success or is a competitive, budding athlete seeking an edge in performance, or is just an active child who needs a boost in confidence as it relates to his or her ability to participate successfully in athletic activities – FAST Fundamentals helps to develop, strengthen and maximize a child’s overall athleticism, potential and confidence.

What do you feel is the best way to develop a child’s overall athleticism?
Think about it this way – children don’t learn to read before first being taught the ABCs. Similarly, children don’t learn algebra before first being taught basic arithmetic. When it comes to young and growing athletes, we strongly believe that children need to “master the fundamentals”. Before children can develop or improve sport-specific skills, it is critical that they first develop the core physical movement patterns that serve as the necessary building blocks for future athletic success.
Coordination, agility, reaction, balance, speed, core strength and conditioning form the foundation of all sport-specific movements – improving any or all of these building blocks will help a child become a more complete, confident and productive athlete in EVERY sport! We truly believe that “competence leads to confidence” and an overall proficiency in the fundamental skills of athletics is important for a child’s evolving self-esteem, especially as it relates to their participation in sports.

What advice can you give parents who are interested in helping their child improve athletically?
1- Make sure your child participates in a variety of sports – there has been a movement towards “single sport specialization” at a young age and this is a worrisome trend. There is an unbelievable amount of research that consistently establishes that “single sport specialization” has a negative impact on a child’s physical (more injuries), emotional (quitting earlier) and social (more pressure = less happiness) development. Not only that, but cross-training in a variety of sports will actually help your child become a better player in each sport by making them a better ATHLETE!

2- Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes each day for your child to participate in physical activity – and it should be different each day! There are numerous “drill-based games and contests” which children absolutely love participating in that can be done indoors and outdoors and with minimal equipment. John Wooden, one of the most famous basketball coaches of all-time once said, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…Don’t look for big, quick improvement. Seek small improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.” We love that quote and we think it sums up our philosophy of athletic development very well.

3- Find programs whose coaches are positive role models. Let’s not forget what kids love doing more than anything else – having fun! Coaches need to create a positive environment throughout their classes/sessions as this will help motivate your child to try new activities without a fear of failure. Athletic performance and a love for physical activity is tied directly to self-esteem and self-confidence – children should look forward to participating in sports because it’s fun and makes them feel good—that’s when real improvement happens!

Dave and Jason have been longtime members of the TLC Family, so it is no surprise that their philosophy on coaching children and providing a proactively positive environment aligns closely with our STARFISH values program and the type of environment we create at camp.

We believe what Dave and Jason are doing is great, and we are excited to implement aspects of FAST into our athletics program this summer. If you would like to learn more about FAST Fundamentals, we encourage you to visit or call 516-629-5878.

Watch fast fundamental drill videos here: