There has been a significant increase in the amount of sports specific coaching and competition available to young athletes.  This can promote early specialisation in a particular sport or activity, which can be deemed detrimental to the young athlete.  A rise in early specialisation can lead to an increase in people seeking expert youth fitness training activities.  At NK Fitness we use fitness training to provide young athletes with a balanced programme.


The Perils of Early Specialisation

Focussing upon one sport from an early age is generally regarded as detrimental to the young athlete.  Early specialisation can increase drop out rates from sport and limit the performance levels that an athlete achieves .  For sports in which optimal performance age tends to be young adult it is unavoidable.  Examples of early specialisation sports are gymnastics and figure skating.  However, most elite performance comes later into adulthood, and therefore favours late specialisation.  Concentrating only upon the specific skill set and specific fitness required for one sport can cause a young athlete to limit their performance.  Overuse injuries, muscle imbalances and motor skill deficits are commonplace in those who select to specialise early.  Individuals who choose sports specific youth fitness training may add to these damaging effects.


Youth Fitness Training can be a Solution

Whether you like or not there will always be those parents and young athletes who wish to focus upon a chosen sport.  These are usually talented young athletes and high performers who have been identified by their sports and then invited into some ‘performance pathway’.  It is not unusual for these individuals to seek out additional support in the form of expert youth fitness coach.  At NK Fitness we work with a lot of talented young athletes in this situation.  We work hard to quickly recognise any muscle balances, movement skill deficits that may lead to injury and poor performance.  To effectively design a youth fitness programme we do not just focus upon fitness for performance.  We also develop a broader conditioning base using effective programme design.  In other words we ‘fill in’ the movement and skills gaps that result from early specialisation.

It is important to really understand the young athlete too, in terms of their personality.  This has an impact upon every aspect of the fitness programme they receive and how we deliver it.  High performance young athletes may feel pressure from a number of sources.  As a strength and conditioning coach specialising in youth fitness it is vital to make sessions enjoyable.  The athlete must value them for more than just improving fitness.  A focus upon proper technique and appropriate fitness programme design will yield the best results in the long term.

Youth Fitness and Training for Young Athletes
Youth fitness coaching must focus upon developing a happy, confident child in the first instance.

The ‘end goal’ with Youth Training

In order to maximise performance, participation and personal development parents and coaches must endeavour to deliver a balanced activity programme to children.  Exposure to many different sports with an emphasis upon fun is high preferable versus early specialisation.  However, talented young athletes may have little choice and desire to do so.  This is where an experienced strength & conditioning coach can provide some balance.  Youth fitness and strength programmes must ensure a broad development of motor capabilities to offset biases that occur from a narrow focus upon one sport.