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Strength & Conditioning For Junior Athletes: The Essentials

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As a strength and conditioning coach working with youth athletes is arguably one of the important parts of the job. As a coach you can have an amazing impacts on a child’s development physically, emotionally and also cognitively.

This article is aimed towards both coaches and parents looking at how we should we specifically train youth athletes. If you still need to catch up on the benefits of strength and conditioning for youth athletes then check out my previous article here:

Junior Athletes Need Strength & Conditioning

 

As we have seen there are a number of benefits to strength and conditioning and it is essential for athletic development. But how are youth athletes different than training mature adults?

A youth athlete needs to be trained, progressed and treated differently to an older individual. Obviously the basic principles may be the same but how we adapt the exercises and sessions may be completely different. We are going to look at the essential parts of a session for a youth athlete:

 

FUN –

Youth athletes need to have fun and enjoy their training session. At the end of the day they are kids. They have shorter attention spans and as they develop they may start to understand the more serious side to training. As a coach we need to ensure the programming is fun and engaging for the athlete. They will be able to handle short bursts of information but keeping the session fun will allow them to stay motivated and connected!

PLAY –

Play goes hand in hand with fun. Unlike adults tough and intense training may not work for youth athletes. During play, kids have the opportunity to learn while using their imagination, creativity and pushing their physical boundaries. The addition of games and other activities can further enhance their learning in a safe environment.

TECHNIQUE/FORM –

 Technique is important for individuals of all levels but is especially vital for younger athletes. Children are a blank slate and as a coach we are setting them up for their future. At this young age we are responsible for teaching them the correct movement patterns so poor technique can be detrimental to their development. Setting a high standard from the start will assist the athlete in the long term and most importantly reduce their risk of injury. Technique always comes first!

COMMUNICATION –

 Communication is key. As a coach we need to be concise, clear and easy to understand especially for kids. Providing the right information is essential whilst also understanding that every individual learns in different ways. For example one child may learn mainly through visual information where another may need to feel the movement. During the session it is also good to provide positive feedback and how they can improve their performance. We need to create an environment where it okay to make errors as it is form of learning and getting better.

LONG TERM –

 Training youth athletes is all about the long-term process. As coaches and parents it can be easy to only examine the short-term results without stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. We want youth athletes to progress and develop naturally with our main goal being to aid their long term development.

Training should focus on building the basic fundamentals and providing children with tools to continue on their health and fitness journey. Focus on long term athletic development and you will set them up for years to come!

 

Children are the future. Taking the time to teach them about S&C is essential during their early stages of development. While the principles and methodologies may be similar, youth athletes need to be trained differently to adults. As coaches we should focus on building a strong training base and natural progressing in a fun and safe environment. This combination will allow kids to thrive in S&C and enjoy their journey!

If you are looking for a safe environment with high-level coaches to further develop as an athlete then contact us to find out more. At GW Performance we have educated coaches who can cater to a range of athletes. Email us at info@gw-performance.com.