Why is Strength and Conditioning of the upmost importance for youth athletes?
In years gone by strength training has been regarded by many as an unsafe activity for youth populations, with badly designed and misunderstood data and research stemming from the ‘60’s and 70’s largely to blame. The findings came largely from the rarity of growth plate injuries, which of course led to the common myth that resistance training ‘stunts’ your growth.
More recent findings support the use of resistance training methods to support the youth athlete during a potentially difficult time physically - through their adolescent years when peak height and peak weight velocity (maturation) can play havoc with movement capability. In fact, injuries via strength training are largely brought about by poor technique, fatigue, inappropriate loading, unqualified supervision, and poor equipment choice.
Weightlifting has been shown to be completely safe for youth populations through detailed research and position statements by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology also having backed this up.
Parents, schools and technical coaches all allow their children to be involved in sport, often multiple times per week with multiple sports. This is fantastic, but we potentially have a problem here. Without the intervention of a sound Strength and Conditioning program to complement and support the child through maturation and sport participation (where high forces and technical movements in a chaotic environment are required), we leave our youth athletes open to two problems. These are overuse injuries through sport, in addition to underdevelopment through lack of strength & conditioning.
A sound program like ‘Child to Champion’ allows children to access quality training built round evidence based sound principles, with qualified practitioners in a completely safe and appropriate environment. All athletes then have an opportunity build themselves into robust, resilient individuals who can cope with the high demands of their sport and life with a much-reduced chance of injury.