05 Aug 2016
For healthy development, strength training for young athletes can be safely undertaken via the use of bodyweight exercises, plyometrics and stretching.
Here’s what you need to know about each training exercise…
All children can perform bodyweight exercises, as they build a sense of balance, control and awareness of their bodies. When it comes to training young athletes, bodyweight exercises are a great way for introducing and maintaining good form and technique.
When proper techniques are mastered, small amounts of resistance (like an exercise band) can be added. This can be determined by an experienced Personal Trainer who is trained to plan and deliver tailored exercise programs.
Adjacent functional, body weight activities, applying light resistance through structured exercises (i.e. machines) can be applied in a well supervised/monitored environment. At young ages, it is imperative to observe the law of progression, starting with very light weight at higher reps and only progressing as strength and stability is achieved throughout each exercise
As with any sport, it is advised adolescents obtain medical clearance prior to participating in higher risk activity, such as a strength-training program. If approved, you will need to make sure that the child will be properly supervised, will be using safe equipment, and is following an age-appropriate training routine.
Plyometric exercises – or plyos –involve rapid stretching followed immediately by rapid shortening. Jumping jack, skipping and knee tuck jumps are just some examples of plyometrics that are encouraged when training young athletes, as they will build muscle strength, train the nervous system to react quicker and activate muscles more rapidly. These exercises also help young athletes to develop power in any sport that involves sprinting, jumping, kicking or a quick change of direction. Through plyometric training, the body increases the strength and efficiency of its fast twich fibres, used primarily for explosive force.
As participants in sports and physically demanding activities, young athletes need to make the time to stretch to warm up their muscles, prevent muscle injuries and assist in moving through a full range of motion. Stretching also means better performance for some young athletes. For example, a young martial artist can kick higher if they are more flexible, in the same respect as gymnasts, ballerinas and soccer players.
When training young athletes, it’s vital that a sports nutrition plan is implemented and followed to ensure adequate fuel consumption and energy balance. Making sure young athletes are consuming the right amount of critical macronutrients and micronutrients is essential, and something that a trained Nutrition Advisor can offer valuable information on. A dietary plan must be tailored on each individuals personal requirements including, but not limited to, age, gender and sporting goals.
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