Athletes, both young and old, will maximize their performance and decrease their chance of injury in their sport by participating in strength and conditioning program. Over the years it has become taboo for young athletes to participate in strength training programs because of a rumor, easy to remember, but hard to forget, that weight training will stunt a young child’s growth. This easily remembered rumor is not true. In reality young athletes have as much to gain from a fundamentally sound and safe strength training program as any college or pro athlete would.
Strength training is a broad term often used to describe power, strength, and endurance training using resistance. There are many different ways to create resistance in a strength and conditioning program that will develop muscle. Strength training should be done in a methodical way with young athletes because of its impact not only on muscle but many other parts of the body. The following list includes other parts in the body that benefit from strength training:
· Bones- Bones need to be stressed to gain density. There is an old law that has been around since the beginning of time… “We lose what we don’t use.” Simply put, if young athletes aren’t stressing their bones they are not growing stronger and the potential of fractures will increase.
* Tendons/ Ligaments- Tendons are what connect the muscle to the bones, ligaments connect bone to bone. Tendon and ligament injuries are the most common injuries that occur during athletics events.
* Brain- As your athlete’s strength increases through strength training their performance in their sport will improve. Young athletes become more confident success will follow. It will also give the parent, a peace of mind knowing that their young athletes can perform better with less of a chance of being injured.
Young athletes can begin participating in a strength and conditioning program as young as seven or eight years old or coachable. If your child is old enough to participate in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and gymnastics, then they are ready to begin strength training as long as they are coachable. In fact if your child is involved in these kinds of sports, a strength and conditioning program should be participated in for at least 6-12 weeks a year.
If you feel your child is ready for the challenge and teachable then get them involved in a strength and conditioning program. Keep it safe, keep it fun and these athletes continue strength training throughout their lives and reap the benefits that follow.