Sports training for young people has to be one of the largest growth areas within the fitness industry. This isn’t based upon any statistics but rather my own personal observations. Parents of young athletes can now source age specific programming online and through local providers. At NK Fitness alone we work with elite young athletes from a variety of sports. In addition to the work with individuals we provide sports specific conditioning camps to local clubs and schools.
Increasing youth conditioning presence
Previous blogs have already eluded to the growing body of research regarding the efficacy of age appropriate youth fitness training. As a result there are a growing number of youth S&C coaches working with young athletes. Make no mistake, parents and coaches are looking for every advantage possible to increase the progress of their young athletes. Youth athletes don’t follow watered down adult programmes. There are elements that replicate elements of senior programmes, and elements that are modified to suit the demands of growing bodies. A big emphasis is placed upon technique. Instilling proper movement and mobility at early age allows the young athlete to reduce the likelihood of movement deficiencies later on. We often tell young athletes that they have years ahead of them where they can increase the resistance. Technique is always King!
No change in the magical ingredient
Despite the growing menu of programmes and drills for young athletes to improve their fitness, one thing remains the same. Children progress most in a learning environment that promotes play. For all of the technical drills and activities we cover with young athletes, they still enjoy the conditioning games the most. No amount of sport specific conditioning can replace the value of modified conditioning games and relays. Why? Because they are fun. They also involve sports specific problem solving skills that can’t easily be replicated in drills. Young athletes can develop their movement in the context of attack and defence, learn to recognise patterns, space and therefore opportunities.
Bells, Whistles and Window Dressing
If you are parent of a keen and / or talented young performer and want advice on how to improve their movement and physical conditioning then don’t over complicate it. There are many nicely packaged youth conditioning programmes out there. Talented young athletes, with shiny equipment in pristine facilities can be very appealing. Will your child miss out if they don’t access such a level of support? Nope! It’s what they do that counts, not how expensive the equipment they use. Games, relays and movement drills don’t require fancy facilities and expensive equipment, just imagination and plenty of positive feedback!