Teenagers are not just mini-adults. There are many differences that dictate how to train effectively and safely as a youth athlete. On this page you’ll find answers to the questions we’re asked frequently here at the Youth Athletic Development Academy, as well as some myth busting regarding youth training. If you have any questions beyond what is covered on this page, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
DOES WEIGHT TRAINING STUNT GROWTH?
Put simply: no.
This is a very common misconception that has zero evidence backing it. Modern studies have found no negative impact on skeletal growth or maturation in youth athletes that train with weights. In actuality, the forces put on the body during jumping and sprinting can be 3-4 times higher when compared to a child squatting with an external weight equivalent to their body weight.
See this article for further information.
HOW OLD DO ATHLETES NEED TO BE TO START TRAINING WITH THE YOUTH ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY?
Research shows that starting athletic development training during preadolescence results in a higher potential to achieve optimal motor capacity in adulthood and maximise neuromuscular performance.
Our rule of thumb is this: if a child is able to partake in structured sport classes, stay focused for a 30 minute session and follow instructions from adults, they are old enough.
DO CHILDREN NEED SPORT-SPECIFIC TRAINING?
Great question! First, let’s define sport specific training [commonly referred to as SST]. Put simply, SST is gym-based training that is designed to maximise the athletic qualities specific to a certain sport.
95% of the time, when it comes to youth athletes, our answer to this question is no.
In order to create a well-rounded, healthy and successful athlete — we must first create a foundation. This includes teaching basic motor patterns [technique], creating primary levels of strength and speed, and ensuring adequate mobility and stability around the joints. This can be likened to teaching a math student how to add, subtract and multiply before teaching them algebra — it just makes sense.
Picture a continuum, with general athletic development training to the left and SST to the right. As the athlete develops and reaches maturity, they will be able to move further and further to the right as they look to maximise performance. Every athlete must earn the right to progress and ensure they nail the fundamentals, before moving onto more advanced training techniques.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOUTH ATHLETES TRAIN EACH WEEK?
We get this question a lot, and it’s really tough to answer as there are so many different variables that effect how many times a youth athlete should be training in any typical week.
The typical rule of thumb for high-school athletes is 2-4 formal athletic development sessions per week, depending on their training schedule, competition schedule, life stress, recovery ability, etc. If a youth athlete is in the middle of a competitive season [or in the middle of exam block — all stress is taxing!] their training schedule naturally needs to be less frequent than if they were off season [think: school holidays].
With that said, each athlete is different. The main advice we’re giving here is that balance is essential. Feel free to send us an email to discuss this further.