Fit For Life: Top Factors to Consider When Training Youth Athletes
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Over the last high school football season, I volunteered to help a colleague’s team with their conditioning, and the other coaches and players were happy with the results it produced. We didn't win the title, but the team exceeded the coaches’ expectations, and injuries were lower than usual, with the team maintaining high levels of energy until the end of the fourth quarter. Throughout the season I would post workouts and scores, and talk about everything enthusiastically with my regular clients. I even played a game of pickup football with my friends and their teenage sons and – well, you can guess what my new base age of workout clients is becoming…teenagers!
Different types of teens
I have had experience with different types of teens - some athletes, some not, mostly girls, and it’s been a great personal reward to help them with physical and mental wellbeing. As of late, and increasing my work with teens, my awareness of how important it is for them to train and eat properly has also increased.
Athlete or not, it all starts with basics
My observations are that teens in general, are awkward. They have weak cores, poor balance and stability, and lack coordination. This goes for athletes with the exception of those who are gymnastic athletes. Part of this is due to poor programming and improper training. I find that they go to YouTube or muscle magazines for their workout direction, where there is a generalized lack of attention to core and proper movement patterns. Even on an athletic level, most coaches at high school levels, know the game and strategy of the game, but lack resources and time to provide proper strength and conditioning training. At the pro level, do you think professional coaches focus on how to get someone in top conditioning shape? Or are they more focused on the particulars of plays and strategy? And how many high schools have a coach that specializes in strength and conditioning? With all of that being said, think of an athlete trying to perform at a high level without the proper training and conditioning. It is backwards, and dangerous.
Injury prone without property conditioning
Teens playing contact sports without the proper conditioning are at higher risk of injury. It's like your spine in an accident without a seatbelt. Another reason for their awkwardness is that they are not fully developed at this age. They are still growing and sometimes not uniformly. Their bones grow faster than their muscles in some cases, causing long lanky limbs, with loose, unstable joints. Doing the proper types of exercise is extremely important at this age because their bodies are still developing and high-risk exercises that load the spine should be avoided until an individual is strong and stable enough to support such activities. Attention must be paid to movements and addressed accordingly. When trained and fed properly, this age group responds quickly to exercise and conditioning. Whether your child is an athlete or not, it is a good idea to give them incentive to, and educate them about, exercise. It will pay off in the long run.
I always start by developing a mutual respect between us, and explain what and why we are doing something. Girls need to be handled carefully when it comes to eating. I helped a friend’s teenage daughter lose 65 pounds by educating her on food quality, then she took over and did it on her own in a healthy way. Exercise is important at any age, but safe exercise is essential at this age.
Related Slideshow: Central MA Top 10: High School Football Performances
10. Stephen Peterson
Peterson was a key part of Tiger's big win over visiting Lunenberg on Friday. He carried the ball an astonishing 30 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. Peterson ran behind an offensive line that overmatched Lunenberg on the way to 257 total rushing yards for Maynard..
1. Alex McLaughlin
McLaughlin is yet another dual-threat quarterback who had a great game. McLaughlin out did follow quarterback Koby Schofer of Northbridge to earn this week’s player of the week. McLaughlin threw for 133 yards and a touchdown on 10-17 passing and then dominated on the ground, piling up 213 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns.