Youth Training Programs, Athletic Development, and Over-Training:
In the past decade there has been an increase in the number of overuse injuries. Also the age at which they are occurring is alarmingly young. Children are specializing way too. There are a couple of problems with early specialization (in most sports).
- They preform the same motion over and over again:
It is important when kids are developing motor patters that they practice a variety of movements. The best way to do this is through a variety of sports and activities. It is important for not just their athletic development but also general coordination, flexibility and strength for everyday life.
- Often are pushed into lifting heavy weights too soon:
Strength and Conditioning for youth athletes is extremely important. It is essential that the athletes learn the movements and motor patterns before external resistance is introduced. Simple body weight exercises are often all athletes’ need at a young age. Some examples of this are, simple plyometric exercises, planks, body weight squats, push ups ect. If they are loaded with weight before they can move properly then they can stunt their growth, create chronic life long injuries ect.
- Spend too much time training:
One of the most important parts of youth development is learning social skills. If a young athlete doesn’t have any time because they are always training they miss out on essential life skills.
- Don’t get adequate rest:
One of the most important yet often avoided aspects of youth training programs is rest. Rest is needed to give muscle time to recover. If it is not given then muscle will slowly break down until an injury happens. This refers to days of and rest between high intensity sets.
Through my education, coaching and personal training certification for the Langley Mustangs and my personal training business, I have come to the conclusion that all youth training programs must be built with the future development in mind. All of the problems listed above are huge contributors of over use injuries. It is extremely important to train your athlete according to their age and more importantly biological age (body’s maturity level). This will help avoid injury and build a love for sport and competition. A great resource if you have any more questions is on the National Coaching Certification Program’s website. You can visit the National Coaching Certification Program here: (http://www.coach.ca/sportleadershipsportif/2005/e/presentations/documents/SLS05_LTAD_B2.pdf ).
BA Kinesiology , NSCA-CSCS,
BCAK, NCCPII Sprint/Hurdles