Youth strength training has to follow specific stages of development. In my gym I follow 6 stages of development and develop training programs for athletes in line with this.
Strength training has several key aims when it comes to youths including
- It should develop fundamental movement skills
- Reduce injury risk
- Increase reaction ability
- Reduce reaction time
A mixture of bands medicine ball and light free weight exercises are essential for this
Strength training reduces the risk of injury in youths by
- Decreasing muscular fatigue during sport
- Improves motor skills and balance
- Increasing the strength of muscles, ligaments, tendons and bone
- Increased joint stability to protect and promote proper joint function
- Improves how well the muscles function
- Improves how muscles cooperate with each other during movement
It was found in a study in 2000 (T. Bompa) that youths who engaged in strength training suffered 1/3 of the injuries sustained by youths not involved in strength training.
There are a lot of bogus claims that strength training is dangerous for youth and that it can affect their growth. However none of these claims have any scientific back up. The fact remains a well-designed strength training program when it is practices and supervised in the proper manner along with proper nutrition it is found to improve athletic potential.
When it comes to strength training we need to make sure we entrust our children with the utmost professionals to ensure that all exercises are completed competently, within the child's capabilities and most importantly safely. All and any risks associated with youth strength training can be negated if we follow these simple rules.
The fact is that youths are exposed to far greater risks and far greater forces on their muscles and joints when they are playing their sport than they ever will be in the gym. Any external load used in the gym is only a fraction of body weight while when they are running and sprinting on the field of play they are exerting multiple times their body weight through their joints.