Before I get started, I just want to make it clear. By no means am I claiming to be an expert or know it all, BUT based on my own personal experience training 8-13 year olds for the last four months I have been taking inventory for the last four months now.
I will state the obvious, when training young kids 2nd-8th graders it is important to keep the movements simple and concise. These kids do not have the experience, knowledge or ability to understand many exercises therefore that means the basics work. Stick to the basics and do not try to be so complicated. There is no need to try and be a hero trainer and reinvent the wheel. I was speaking about this with David Lynne on my podcast this week and we both agreed that trainer today seem to try and reinvent the wheel to go viral or show the kids they are "cool" and know everything.
"What does it mean basics?"
The basics, the kids need to develop motor learning, balance, stability and general strength before doing anything too out of this world. Start with the basics, stationary lunges, reverse lunges, box squat, goblet squat, 1-leg box squat, elevated kettle bell pulls, assisted chin ups, medicine ball chest presses, 1-arm banded shoulder presses. Do that for about 6-8 weeks and see how their form improves, their understanding of exercises improve, see if they can add weight with some and focus on cues when doing the movements.
After about 6-8 weeks of the basics and general strength movements. You can add something like a sled pull, sled push, box jump, 1-leg exercises after some mix of basics exercises and step two exercises for another 4-5 weeks. Throw in some agility training, maybe some plyometric exercises and sprint training.
So I think you have an understanding of how to get started with training youth kids. For about 13 weeks basics strength exercises (the ones I listed above plus a whole lot more) and step two exercises.
Now, let me give an example. I had one client who is 14-years-old and needs to improve speed on the ice. What did I do? No, not crazy plyometric exercises right off the bat, not conditioning the whole time. No. I started with 1-leg strength, 1-leg squats, goblet squats, Bulgarian split squat, split stance squat, front foot elevated and rear foot elevated squats, modification to a hex bar deadlift, 1-leg RDL's, landmine dead lifts, 1-arm chest pressing, 1-arm shoulder pressing, bench push ups. We did those movements for about 2 months. With some 1-leg hops, hurdle hops, 1-leg 4 inch box jumps, 1-leg jumps land on 2 feet, 1-leg broad jump sprinkled in.
From there we added in a little more sprint mechanics, more plyometric drills and short sprints. So now we are month 3 of training together and we still do body weight lunges, lunge holds, assisted chin ups, push ups, med-ball throws and now we add in sled pushes, sled pulls, more sets of short sprints, broad jumping, more 1-leg work. Why? Because he is a young kid he adapts quickly and honestly has some impeachable form with a lot of lower body movements, he loves to do plyometric exercises and sprints so we try to do those more and since we did do about 2.5 months of general strength movements, sprint mechanics and sprinting for 5,10,15 yards is really not difficult or taxing for the kid and exactly what he needs.
Where do you start with youth kids? The basics, do not do anything crazy. Keep it simple, have fun, make the kids enjoy it, teach the kids life lessons and how to work hard and push each other and themselves. Joke around, keep it light, don't be strict and just at the end of the day make sure they are happy, having fun and seeing improvements little by little.