Chris Blake gives answer some common questions about flexibility training for young athletes
What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?
Flexibility can have two definitions:
1.) The ability of muscle to lengthen during passive movements.
2.) Range of motion about a joint and surrounding musculature during passive movements.
Mobility can also have two ways of being defined. The main definition is the state of being in motion. But this state of motion can be looked at within certain joints (subtalar mobility) or as a physical whole (moving from one position into the next during a run).
Are both important to young athletes or is one more important than the other?
This is a great question. Both are important for the older athlete (ages 14-18+) as athletes within this age group tend to show more restrictions with both flexibility and mobility, often times once you take care of the flexibility then you improve mobility. But with the younger athlete (ages 13 and under) I wouldn’t place much importance on either one unless there has been a certain injury that limits each.
Are there different kinds of Flexibility, or is ‘bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy’ what all young athletes should be doing?
There are seven different ways of going about flexibility:
But then again, maybe it’s something you really need to hear.
I say that because we all ‘seem’ to know it, but then whenever I
have a conversation with a Coach or Trainer about the topic,
I see the same mistakes being made over and over again.
So here it is bluntly –
Speed Training should not produce fatigue in your young athletes.
Again, it’s a ‘fact’ that every Coach and Trainer seems to
understand from a theoretical perspective, but seldom implements
properly in a practical setting.
Your work-rest ratios when programming for speed must be set
in such a way that your young athletes are fully recovered before
the next set commences.
Anything less than complete recovery means that CNS is not
firing with optimal capacity and you are, in fact, training lactic
acid threshold instead.
There are two ways to ensure that your young athletes are
recovered well between sets:
1) Make the ‘work’ portion of your speed training days low volume.
Rather than running 100 or 200 meters, work at acceleration in
10 and 20 meter bursts. That limited work output will require a
much smaller window of recovery.
2) Script a work-rest relationship of roughly 1:3 in terms of time.
Recovery is largely dependent on the condition of your young
athletes but is also very individually specific. Be wary of this
individual specification and be sure to ‘watch’ your athletes in
between sets for signs of full recovery.
Have a wonderful weekend!
PS Want to learn more about proven strength and speed training with young athletes
systems for young athletes?