Want To Give Your Child A Competitive Sports Advantage?
In my last article, I wrote about the ten fitness domains, and how a training program should be designed to help an athlete become well rounded. Today I am writing about the area that I believe is the most important attribute for an athlete.
If you recall, the ten fitness domains were: Agility, Balance, Accuracy, Coordination, Flexibility, Strength, Stamina, Cardio, Speed, and Power. I believe the most important of these is STRENGTH.
Strength is the basis of which many aspects of sport is based. Want to get faster, then get stronger. Want to develop more coordination, perform resistance training. Want to develop more power, get stronger.
In his book, Speed Training for Hockey by Kevin Neeld 4, he develops a transitive relationship between strength and speed. It goes like this:
More Strength = More Power
More Power = More Speed
More Strength = More Speed
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for youth. Studies show the many benefits of starting kids as young as six years old in strength and conditioning programs. Keep in mind, training programs for younger kids will look a lot different than the training programs for older kids and adults.
Here are some points to consider from recent research papers:
- Kids are not as strong as previous generations 3
- Strength transcends all other areas of fitness, therefore enhancing muscular strength should be a priority in any athletic development program 1
- Being in a sport alone does not guarantee your athlete will gain enough strength to reduce the risk of injury, optimize performance and improve overall health 3
- Because there are certain levels of strength required to move efficiently, it is imperative that muscular strength be increased during childhood and adolescence to develop healthy and capable young athletes 3
- Children show greater training-induced gains in motor skill performance (eg, jumping, running and throwing) following structured resistance training 1
- Participation in a strength training program should be year-round because strength gains are not permanent and regress during a detraining period (during the sports season) 1
- Old fears regarding the effects of resistance training on our youth have been replaced by scientiﬁc evidence that indicates childhood and adolescence may be the opportune time for the bone remodeling process to respond to the tensile and compressive forces associated with resistance training 1
- Young athletes who engage in resistance training are more likely to sustain elite-level performance and less likely to suffer a sports-related injury. 1
- If a child is ready to participate in organized and structured sports, then they are generally ready to perform a supervised resistance training program. At 6 years of age, they may be ready to participate in an organized resistance training program 2
Current Trends for Improving In Sport
Now that I’ve given you some of the most recent research, let’s talk a bit about what most parents are doing with their children in an effort to help them improve and develop in their sport.
For this example, let’s say it’s a winter sport like basketball.
- Child plays their sport during the traditional season
- That child may also play in a fall league
- Then participate in a summer program,
- Go to sport-specific camps, and
- Might also play in a spring league.
In the hopes of developing into an elite level player, that child is specializing in a single sport at a young age and playing it year-round. This is causing burn-out and increasing injury rates in young athletes.
Unfortunately, misinformed coaches are telling parents the only way their child will be good enough to play varsity sports when they are older, is to specialize when they are younger.
There is a Better Way
Instead of solely focusing on a single sport, your young athlete should play multiple sports to develop a broader athletic base. Did you know that 96% of the players on the Super Bowl 52 roster played in multiple sports in high school? 5 They were not just great football players, they were great athletes.
In addition to playing multiple sports, get your athlete involved in a year-round resistance training program. “Stronger young athletes are better prepared to perform complex movements, master sport tactics and withstand the demands of sports practice and competition. Without ongoing participation in strength-building activities, strength reserves will begin to wane, and young athletes will become more vulnerable to sport stressors” 3
Do you want to give your child a competitive advantage? Enroll your young athlete now in our youth athletic training program today!
1. Citius, Altius, Fortius: beneﬁcial effects of resistance training for young athletes: Narrative review Avery D Faigenbaum,1 Rhodri S Lloyd,2 James MacDonald,3,4 Gregory D Myer5,6,7,8
2. Resistance Training for Children and Youth: A Position Stand from the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) 2007
3. Are Young Athletes Strong Enough For Their Sport? DREAM ON, Faigenbaum, A; MacDonald J; Haff, G. (ACSM) 2018
4. Speed Training for Hockey, 12 Weeks to Game-Changing Speed; Neeld K & Pollen, T; 2018
5. How Many Football Players in Super Bowl LII Played Multiple Sports in High School?; Brian Spilbeler/Tracking Football; 2018; retrieved 10/19/2019 from https://www.nfhs.org/articles/how-many-football-players-in-super-bowl-lii-played-multiple-sports-in-high-school/