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Youth Training: How young is too young?
April 1, 2017
“Could my son’s injury have been prevented with strength and agility training?” or “my daughter is an excellent athlete, clearly a D1 caliber, what do I need to ensure that competitive edge?”
So the question at hand is… when is too young to start youth (prepubescent/preadolescent) training?
Both you and your child may have big dreams of one day of playing college sports or even professionally, but there are some that just want to play high school sports and create lifelong health and wellness.
But what are the potential benefits of starting your child on training at an early age? And how young is “too young” to start?
Until recently, the standard approach to train young athletes was a big no no, leading only to damage the spine, stunt growth and/or ultimately result in injuries. Many even believed that strength training for kids would result in slowed progression of athletic development.
All of this is true and false depending on how, what, when and why you are training.
The difference today is the amount of research, development, and practical knowledge we have gained in understanding the biomechanics and the role they play in all stages of a child’s life. What we know now is that when athletic development training is done safely and age-appropriately, it can be EXTREMELY beneficial to children in the long run.
Development of children who participate in a regular fitness routine or life style tend to be a step ahead of those that do not; in height, weight management, muscle strength, lung capacity and even body control. With a resistance training program studies, have found, in fact, that it can actually have a great impact on strength prior to adolescence. With the proper trainer and program, preadolescents can attain the same levels of strength gains that their adolescent counterparts do, regardless of gender.
The Mayo Clinic, an authority in health research, has stated that kids should start age-appropriate strength and Athletic Development training as early as 7 or 8 years of age. Beginning youth athletic development training at these early ages will have a longer positive effect on a child than just playing sports. But in what ways you ask? Well here’s why, not only is the child developing appropriately physically, but they are instilling habits and a positive association to training early on which will continue in their life, long after sports have ended.
So, what exactly is proper “athletic development training” for children? How do we go about achieving this feet?
Think about the development of a toddler…we as parents are continuously trying stimulate their motor skills and physical activity to advance their neurological movements, hand-eye coordination, balance and physical strength. We want them to start rolling in their crib, to being mobile in the bouncing walker, then climbing and jumping off obstacles (just not the couch), and banging on things…all of these tasks are stimuli to the Central Nervous System (CNS) and physical developmental exercises.
As the children grow, the need for proper technique and training applies to running, stopping, changing directions, lifting weights and many other athletic movements. With youth athletic development, if taught the proper mechanical movements and proper strength promotion is implemented; they develop advanced motor skills and with skills comes speed, agility and reduced injury risks.
So when did we get the disconnect in our child’s progress to activity with childhood?? We’ve become too reliant on our PE Teachers and coaches for their sports teams to be sure they are active and taught all of this. Unfortunately, with today’s demands on academics and advancements in computers, kids are not getting enough activity let alone proper development in athletics or health and fitness.
In today’s society, we are now pushing more competitive athletic play at younger ages, especially with year-round travel teams for soccer or baseball for example. Now we are faced with the reality that our child’s mechanics, strength and movement is poorly developed with terrible habits that need correction.
It should only make sense that youth athletic development should occur when kids’ CNS is the most active, receptive and developmentally capable of being programed properly. Understanding early child development accentuates the importance of training before, during and after sports to make training and fitness a staple of their lives.
Parents always say, we are too busy with sports to train. Unfortunately, it isn’t until their child is injured or no longer able to keep up at the desired level of play that they then make training a priority.
In reality youth athletic development and strength training should be viewed as the staple of safe, proper and effective long-term development.
If we invest the time to properly teach, train and develop our children now, we are maximizing their chances of long-term physical, mental and developmental success. When puberty, competition and challenge comes into play, your child’s mind and body will be prepared. Call now to get your little athlete training now! 914.273.3413
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!