Lets keep it simple...
Your child should be “training". All children should move through their natural movement patterns, learn new movements and strengthen their muscles & joints, to build strength and stability. There's some outdated information that discusses how dangerous training can be, but not training can be even MORE DANGEROUS! There is anecdotal evidence on both sides of the fence but every child is bound to touch a weight, run and jump, especially if they play sports during youth development!
Of course some risk is associated with training, as with everything, but what this means is that they should be supervised, given professional demonstration and monitored by someone experienced and certified. Human performance is both a fascinating and complex subject riddled with controversy. Children are provided with many bio mechanic and neurologic safety mechanisms referred to as inhibitors.
To witness these inhibitors in action simply observe children either learning to walk or playing, watch them fall, tumble or elsewise do something that would surely injure an adult. They may cry or get frustrated but they learn and grow from it. The nervous system has sensitive periods of growth and development known as myelination. This period of rapid learning generally lasts until ~15 and then slows down. Youth that participate in structured strength and conditioning before this age are given a leg up.
There are some guidelines that can benefit the youth program:
- Expert Demonstration- eliminate distractions, show the athlete what is expected of them multiple times.
- Peer Demonstration- use a peer that demonstrates competency in the tasks and have them demonstrate while explaining
- Feedback- provide feedback once the task is complete, try to end with positive feedback for confidence building
- Explain deficiencies and then demonstrate the correction
- Keep intensity low and interest high- youth LOVE games make the activity a fun and friendly competition
Using logic it makes perfect sense that youth should train when playing a sport, it is not much different than going to practice. In a strength and conditioning program practice is movement and not plays or specialized skill. Both are very important but one has an unwarranted negative stigma. We need to let the youth move, learn, practice, fail and grow under professional supervision. For this very reason we have school teachers, sport coaches and strength and conditioning specialists!
Check out the throwback video below of NJ State Champion Kevin Mulligan training back when he was 13 years old!
If you are a parent with questions about getting your child started training or a coach looking to learn the safe way to conduct children in the weight room please send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we would be glad to help!
For more information on Varsity House Gym please visit www.varsityhousegym.com