The Most Optimal Way to Train our Youth: Part l

A few years back I was sitting in a youth fitness conference and the presenter asked, “What works when it comes to training our youth?” The room filled with answers; weights, bands, machines, and “plyos” were all among the answers that were shouted from various areas of the room. The presenter responded a little differently than what the crowd had probably expected “It all works” he then said, “Instead of asking what works when it comes to training our youth, what we should really be asking, is what is the most optimal way to train our youth?”

Most people don’t know this, but when working with youth everything works. This is because we are dealing with a growing body that is able to respond, react, and adapt to anything that is thrown at its way.

Whether  you have your kids doing speed drills, cross fit style programs, running, P90X and Insanity programs, bleachers, push-ups, pull-ups, or “plyos”,  you will see results in your child’s performance. He or she will get stronger and faster, just because of the biological changes taking place in the body that allows it to constantly grow from birth to adulthood.

We, as trainers, performance coaches, strength and conditioning coaches (or whatever you want to call yourself) need to quit patting ourselves on our back, and face the fact that a lot of the growth, strength, and speed increase that we see in our young athletes has a lot to do with nature, and not as much to do with the exercises we are having these youth do in our programs.

In the past I have written a lot of blogs that deal with the most optimal way to train young athletes depending on the age . When working with children I will usually split them into three different age groups; 6- 9 year olds, 10-13 year olds, and 14-17 year olds. I do this because the children in these different age groups generally have similar social, emotional, psychological, biological, and physical traits.

As parents and coaches of youth sports and H.S. sporting teams, we need to make sure that we are seeking out performance coaches who are experienced and certified to work with youth. Just because a trainer has worked with pro athletes, or was a college or pro athlete themselves, does not make them qualified to work with our youth.

Because youth sports are becoming so competitive, parents are willing to shell out thousands of dollars in hopes of giving their child an edge on the competition. As a result of this, in recent years,  we have seen a huge bandwagon movement of large franchise performance facilities as well as strength and conditioning coaches popping up on every corner. Unfortunately, what these different facilities and trainers are doing is  just taking an adult or college/pro type workout and dummy-ing it down a bit for kids. This is defiantly not the most optimal way to train our youth.

In part ll I will be giving you some tips or ideas on what to look for when seeking out facilities or coaches to help work with your children’s fitness and sports performance.

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