Although small pockets of resistance still exist, there appears to be have been a shift when it come to youth training. Resistance and strength training, particularly. Strength & conditioning is now recognised as an effect and useful tool in building stars of the future. However, this doesn’t mean you should send your kids into the gym to fend for themselves! What should be taken into consideration with youth strength & conditioning?
Never Forget The Basics
These shouldn’t really need to be stated and in fact bare true to any novice lifter. Quality instruction and development of the basics is a must. A hazard free and safe environment go without saying, so be aware of where you are and who is training. A good warm up being an opportunity to improve technique and recognise potential faults. From here, light loadings (if any) are the starting to point.
Movement – Consistency – Intensity
The Sessions Themselves
You may want to think of these as guidelines! 1-3 sets of 6-15 repartitions will be sufficient for young athletes. Within these ranges they can be exposed to challenging tasks, without over facing them. A large variety of exercises should be used to ensure a well rounded approach to training is taken. Developing symmetry and muscle balance can go along way to keeping athletes healthy and able to steadily progress.
Understanding and controlling the body itself is key for any lifter. However, it is particularly important to develop these qualities in youth athletes. Work that focuses on control of the pelvis, abdominals and lower back is vitally important.
How To Progress Safely
Research released in 2009 suggests gradual increases of no more than 10%. This also goes with along with a large chunk of being sensible! Improving the movement pattern itself is a form of strength gains. You may find some athletes are capable of moving large loads. However, you will need to make sure they can perform these perfectly, weight free.
Listening to individuals within a session is a must when it comes to progression. The level of development is not going to be simply reflected in age. Whilst some may take to things like a fish to water, every single athlete will differ. Resistance training consistently 2-3 times a week on non consecutive days has found to be safe and effective.
Other Considerations For Youth Strength & Conditioning
Keeping sessions fresh and varied will keep athletes engaged. Therefore, It is important to make sure athlete results are recorded individually. This will allow progress to be monitored and controlled accordingly. If you are a parent of a coach yourself, you can play a major role in keeping athletes engaged. Support and encouragement from yourselves will help grow interest and buy in. You may also find that your role as a parent or guardian can play a big part outside of the gym. Optimising recovery through sleep, hydration and nutrition can go a long way.
You may find it beneficial to sit down with those involved in a young athletes life to ensure you’re on the same wavelength. A lack of communication may mean that progress is halted in one area due to excessive focus on another. As Leading Strength & Conditioning Coaches in Berkshire, NK Fitness Staff will always do our best to get a view of the athletes life as a whole. This big picture approach allows us to develop sessions that are 100% individual.