How young is too young for Sports Specific Training?
Is my child too young to begin sports specific training? As a sports performance coach this is probably the most frequently asked question I’ve heard, and possibly a question you have asked yourself. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions regarding children and strength training. Parent’s have been lead to believe that sports training leads to injury, stunts growth by damaging growth plates and offers little gain in strength due to lack of testosterone in children. When parents consider these concerns in addition to other safety issues, it is easy to understand the reason for their fear.
On the contrary, strength training for young athlete’s can be extremely beneficial. When done properly with the help from a certified professional, sports training can increase strength, promote efficiency between the nervous and muscular systems, strengthen bones and connective tissues, prevent injury and provide a better sense of well being. A program that emphasizes controlled movements, technique and safety can help an athlete achieve all of these benefits.
So what age is appropriate? Any age is a good age but there are factors to consider. A child’s desire or eagerness to exercise, their maturity level and whether the child is able to participate in organized sports are all important considerations. Parents may also find it beneficial to consult their pediatrician before having their child begin a strength training program.
Once the decision has been made for a young athlete to begin training, parents’ will need to find a facility and instructor. The facility should be spacious, organized and well laid out to promote safety. The instructor should be certified and have knowledge and experience working with young athletes.
Obviously, there are many things to consider before enrolling a young athlete in a sports performance program. However, informed parents that have done their homework can ease their fears. This will allow their blossoming athlete to reap the many rewards that come from proper training and encourage a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
Steve Koch, PTA, Certified Sports Performance Coach