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The Benefits of Sport Specific Strength Training in Youth Sports

While strength training may appear to be more of an advanced form of training suited for adults, it is widely accepted and beneficial for youth athlete’s health and fitness! It has become increasingly popular during youth sports off-season to maintain sport-specific strength. Research tells us that youth athletes can improve strength by 30% to 50% after 8 to 12 weeks of a well-designed strength training program. By learning and performing strength-based exercises, athletes build bone, neurological and cardiovascular development to increase their level of play and prevent injury! If you’re looking to implement strength training with your athletes, read on for eight tips to creating a well-rounded strength program:

  1. Individualized: Strength training programs should be individualized based on age, maturity, and personal goals and objectives.
  2. Warm-Up/Cool Down: Each training session should include a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and a 5- to 10-minute cooldown. 
  3. Fundamentals: When your athletes are learning new exercises, they should use no-load repetitions to help them focus on form and technique. 
  4. Exercise Order: Perform large-muscle exercises before small-muscle exercises and complex exercises before simple exercises. 
    • In general, starting big and ending small is a helpful guideline.
  5. Resistance Types: Youth strength training programs should incorporate a variety of resistance types: free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and medicine balls. 
    • Athletes should fit the equipment properly and coaches should ensure they are teaching proper skills and techniques to perform exercises correctly.
  6. Sets and Reps: For each training session, 6-8 exercises that train the major muscle groups (i.e., chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs, abdomen, and lower back) are recommended. 
    • Athletes should aim to perform 2-3 exercises per muscle group. 
    • Youth strength training programs should start with 1-2 sets per exercise, with 6-15 repetitions in each set. 
  7. Increasing Weight: Typically, resistance can be increased by 5%-10% when the child can efficiently perform 15 repetitions. If the athlete cannot complete at least ten repetitions per set or is unable to maintain correct form, then the weight is likely too heavy and should be reduced.
  8. Frequency: Athletes should rest for about 1-3 minutes between sets and should strength-train 2-3 nonconsecutive days each week. 

While sport-specific strength training is beneficial, it always requires the supervision and support of a trained coach to ensure proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety.

Click here to learn more about the many benefits of strength training in youth sports.





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