Even fewer know HOW to prepare to win
Training incorrectly can actually slow or even reverse performance improvements. There are a lot of books and plenty of advice on the internet that can help but do you know how to apply that to your body, your physical limitations or your performance plateaus? Are you training your body to be stronger and more powerful or look stronger and more powerful?
Training for competitive sports is not only healthy for children as young as 6 years but it is also recommended by organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Rather than stunting growth as was once feared, proper progressive training has been proven to protect against injuries and improve competitive performance on the field of play.
What is Appropriate for Young Athletes and Beginners?
The answer to that depends on a number of factors such as age, current physical condition, coordination and experience. Initial training should focus on body weight exercises, strength training with weights that can be lifted 8 – 12 times, balance and core strength as well as cardiovascular exercise. Children/pre-adolescents (6 – 12) and beginners should keep it simple and engage in activities that are fun with an emphasis on body weight movements, calisthenics and good technique. Older, more experienced athletes should consider strength & conditioning an important part of their training calendar for their sport and should utilize good technique with progressive resistance to build strength.
Training for Experienced Athletes
To train effectively at an advanced level, athletes should understand the movements required for the sport for which they are training and how often these movements are made during a typical event. This knowledge should be used to develop a program to improve conditioning for these patterns. A cyclical, or periodized, approach to training is often recommended where an athlete starts with basic strength and endurance training followed by progressively higher intensity and sport specific training. After the sport season and a brief rest interval the cycle would then repeat.
Remember, technique should be taught by your sport coaches and strength & conditioning by a qualified strength & conditioning coach (such as an NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist). Mastering both technique and conditioning for your sport is the winning combination.
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1. Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Strength Training by Children and Adolescents. [Online] in PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001.
2. McArdle, William D., Katch, Frank I., Katch, Victor L, Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, Energy and Human Performance; 7th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.