Children are not just mini adults. There are many differences that dictate how to train effectively and safely as a youth athlete. Here are some answers to the commonly asked questions we receive here at YAD Academy, as well as some myth-busting regarding youth training. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
DOES WEIGHT TRAINING STUNT GROWTH?
No. This is a very common misconception has zero evidence to support it. Many studies have in fact, found no negative impact on skeletal growth/maturation. You would be surprised to hear that 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 YOUTH ATHLETES NEED TO BE TO JOIN THE ACADEMY?
Research has shown 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 old enough to play in structured sport classes, stay focused for a 30 minute session and follow instructions, they are old enough.
DO CHILDREN NEED SPORT-SPECIFIC TRAINING?
Firstly, let’s define sport specific training (SST). Simply, SST is gym based training designed to maximise the athletic qualities specific to a certain sport.
95% of the time, with youth, our answer to this question is no. This is because in order to create a well rounded, healthy, successful athlete you must first create a foundation. This includes teaching basic motor patterns (technique), creating basic levels of strength/speed and ensuring adequate mobility and stability around the joints. This is like teaching a math student how to add, subtract and multiple before doing algebra. Imagine a continuum with general 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 athletes 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 IN THE GYM EACH WEEK?
This is a tough one to answer as there are so many different variables that will affect how many times you should be training. A typical rule of thumb for high school athletes would be 2-4 formal sessions per week depending on training schedule, competition schedule, life stress, recovery, etc. If youth athletes are in the middle of a competitive season, or maybe are in exam block, their training schedule will naturally be less frequent than if they were off-season (during the summer holidays, etc).