It is instinctive as a parent want your child to excel in every aspect of their life is instinct. Parents want to give their children the best possible chance to succeed. Children grow up idolizing the top athletes, that can foster the desire to be great in sport as well. The question is, what is the best approach to help facilitate these goals? There are a lot of mixed messages out there regarding youth training. Is it safe? Can training to young stunt growth? What types of foods should they eat? How much sleep should they be getting? When should my child begin resistance training? These types of questions are endless. There is the belief in the public that resistance training has a negative impact on development, however this belief does not have much merit.
There is now a compelling body of scientific evidence that supports regular participation in youth resistance training to reinforce positive health and fitness adaptations and sports performance enhancements1. Research on youth has shown that regular participation in an appropriately designed exercise program inclusive of resistance training can elicit significant performance improvements in muscular strength, power production, running velocity, change of direction speed and general motor performance2. If you want your child to excel in any sport they play, enrolling them in a qualified strength and conditioning program will give them the best chance to be successful.
Studies are also showing positive results on improving a child’s confidence, enhancing bone-mineral density, strengthen bones and improving skeletal healthy in young athletes3. A lot of children may end up dropping out of sport all together if they do not feel they are competent enough to play well and therefore have fun. A well designed training program should give children the mental and physical tools they need to play any sports. Proper loading of the joints and muscles will actually facilitate bone growth, which will be very important in old age.
More recent findings suggest that a highly trained musculoskeletal system will likely increase resistance to injury and possibly improve an athlete’s capacity to recover from sprains, strains, and fractures1,2. There is even stronger support for the use of resistance training in youth provided that these programs are supervised by qualified professionals and consistent with the needs, goals and abilities of children and adolescents1,2,4. Many seem concerned with the amount of force moving through youth’s joints while increasing weight in resistance training. However, contrary to what many might think, the most severe forces youth will be exposed to come directly from their participation in sport. Running, jumping and other landing activities during competitive play have been found to impose forces up to 5 to 7 times an athletes body weight1. Even the most experienced weight lifter is not executing strength lifts with these types of loads. This gets one thinking about what “strength” really is.
Think about the daily lifestyle habits our children adopt from such early ages; when they are confined to the indoors to sit in desks for majority of the day and free play is restricted with the growing dangers of society. What are the postures children are adopting? How active are their hamstrings, glutes and back muscles; the ones that give us power and help us with good posture? Are children reinforcing these weak postures in the sports they play? It is pretty difficult to work on improving movement mechanics when children have to learn to dribble, shoot, learn plays and tactics of the game. This is why a good strength and conditioning program is needed to improve these imbalances, giving children the ability to move better and have better tools to learn and play the games they love.
Youth who do not enhance their muscular strength and motor skill proficiency early in life may not develop the prerequisite skills and abilities that would allow them to participate in a variety of activities and sports with confidence and vigour later in life2,3. Contact me today to find out more about our youth programs.
The recommended amount of sleep for school aged children (5-10 years old) is 10-11hours/day, while teens (10 – 17 years old) need 8.5- 9.5 hours of sleep a day5. Possible symptoms of sleep deprivation are: increased moodiness, decreased academic performance, difficulty waking in the morning, trouble falling to sleep and notable increased fatigue throughout the day6. These are a few different symptoms to keep an eye on, in terms of managing how much sleep your child is getting. It is important to note that a single symptom does not necessarily indicate sleep deprivation and is more just something to be aware of.
When it comes to adequate nutrition, getting it “right” is not the be all end all like most media outlets might have you believe. As long as there is attention paid to adequate consumption of dietary calcium, vitamin D, protein, overall energy requirements, in conjunction with adequate strength program development by a qualified professional you will have a healthy child. As all these factors will aid in optimal bone health4.
If you have an aspiring Olympian, professional athlete, or recreational athlete on your hands and want to give them the best possible opportunity to realize their dreams and live a long and injury free life, contact me for your free 1 hour consultation today!
(1) Faigenbaum, A. D., Myer, G. D., Naclerio, F. & Casas, A. A. (2011). Injury trends and prevention in youth resistance training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(3), 36-41.
(2) Kraemer, W. J., Fry, A. C., Frykman, P. N., Conroy, B. & Hoffman, J. (1989). Resistance Training and Youth. Human Kinetics Journal, 1(4), 336-350.
(3) Biddle, S. J. H., Gorely, T. & Stensel, D. J. (2004). Health enhancing physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents. Journal of Sports Science, 22(8), 679-701.
(4) Kilgore, L. Misconceptions about youth training. Starting Strength (pp. 215-223). Aasgaard Company.
(5) Matricciani, L., Blunden, S., Rigney, G., Williams, M. T. & Olds, T. S. (2013). Childern’s sleep needs- Is there sufficient evidence to recommend optimal sleep for children? Sleep, 26(4), 527-534.
(6) Milewski, M. D., Skaggs, D. L., Bishop, G. A., Pace, J. L., Ibrahim, D. A., Wren, T. A. L. & Barzdukas, A. (2014). Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 34(2), 129-133.