Injury Prevention Training for Young Athletes?


Is injury prevention training necessary for young athletes?


Is a quality long-term young athletes development plan already equipped with injury preventative features?


I presented a seminar at Club Industry in Chicago last week and got myself into a raging argument with an attendee about this topic.


Would do you think?


Leave a comment below and state your case…


… You may just change my opinion…


– Brian
Young Athletes

22 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    Hoi Brian

    Injurie prevention is one off the most important issues in youth athletics. A lot off work get lost when your youth athlete had to rest for a couple of weeks or months. It is also psychological verry hard for children when they can’t do they’re excercices because they are injured. Therefore it is verry important that there is a good balance between excercicing days and rest.
    Youth trainer “Track and Field”

  2. Dean Jolly says:

    Confused in the question really, so here’s my simple look at this- if the program is a quality program based on long term development then I would expect it to be progressive in nature that prevents injury in the first place.
    Exercise prescription in any manner to me is injury preventative as it’s suppose to give a positive result first and foremost.

  3. Brendan Murray says:

    I began my experience of physical training 30 years ago, by being trained as a gymnast.
    The regular “warm-up” consisted of jogging interspersed with fun games which demanded short bursts of speed.
    This was followed by about twenty minutes of static stretching, as an instructor led the team in a series of static stretches.
    We learned that this combination was “to prevent injury”
    Now there is confusion as to whether any of this static stretching was necessary at all.
    I try to enlighten myself by web searches but depending on whose blog that you read, there are many conflicting opinions.
    I am none the wiser!

  4. Rick Daman says:

    A high percentage of athletes that come into my gym have zero or very little experience in training. Putting them through a warm up can be quite demanding for their boides when they first start. Teaching them proper movements such as, (body weight) Squats, lunge variations, ground based movements etc.. I believe is a form of injury prevention. You re coaching these movements constantly, fixing form, teaching them to breath and stay braced to the point where you can see them doing it on their on in the future. With young athletes getting them to pay attention to detail is vital in their growth of athletic performance.

  5. Denise says:

    I agree with Dean a well designed, function base, movment based program will teach the kids how to move properly and is injury prevention. Poor form such as hip adduction with landing or reaching outside your base of support, increaseing knee flexion with deceleration should be part of program design adn coached to endure they are performed properly. carry over then shows up on the field of play. Injuries, out side of contact, are attributred to not being able to control forces properly. Fatigue is also an issue in non-contact injuries.

  6. Mike Mejia says:

    Very interesting topic. I for one feel pretty strongly that injury prevention training for young athletes is becoming more and more necessary, and the major reason for this is the inordinate amount of early specialization going on.

    Granted, if given the opportunity to work with young athletes from an early enough age, so that a long-term development plan could be put into place, there would be no need for such training. However, when you’re contracted to work with either individual athletes, small groups, or even teams, that have been competing exclusively in a particular sport for several years already, the groundwork for dysfunction has often already been laid.

    Perhaps no better example of this situation exists than with the sport of swimming. Due to the tremendous amount of yardage they put in, up to 6 days per week and 11 months per year (at the club level), swimmers as young as 11 to 12 years old often exhibit severe muscular imbalances that can set the stage for chronic injuries.

    So, while a more globalized conditioning approach is still valuable in this instance, at least some of the training, in my view at least, has to be geared specifically towards injury prevention. An example of this would be educating the athletes on proper postural mechanics, as well as de-emphasizing the same muscles they’re already pounding in the pool (i.e. by assigning lots of push-ups, crunches and quad dominant exercises). Sadly, this is often exactly what is prescribed in many team dryland training programs.

    So basically, in a perfect world, the long-term development approach that focuses on promoting optimal movement mechanics and building overall systemic strength is still best for young athletes. However, as long as this trend towards early specialization continues to grow, I think that we as coaches will always have to pay at least some attention to specific injury prevention training.

    Just my two cents.


  7. Mike says:

    All programs for youth “athletes” should be based on injury prevention first, athletic development second, athletic performance third.

    Age, gender need to be understood and some form of movement analysis should be performed before any long term planning implemented.


  8. Dan says:

    In addition to prevention, I think whats even more important is to identify their needs! From working with the 100’s of youth over the years, we find there are many, and I mean many physical limitations which is preventing them from moving well and performance well. So identifying physical limitations, weakness, imbalances, poor shoulder and hip mobility, pelvic stability is essential. Then of course as Mike states, programs should be progressive, movement based rather than performance based.

    Corrective exercises will always be an essential component implemented into overall program and athlete development in the activation and movement prep phases of each session.

  9. Carlo Alvarez says:

    The goals of a long-term athlete development program are to:
    – Reduce the Probability of Injury
    – Enhance Perfomance
    – Prolong Career Longevity

    You can categorize these goals in any specific order, but a well thought out, structured and systematic program will take these goals into consideration from day one of programming.

    The components and the order in which they are implemented within the long-term training structure and their specific emphasis should be determined after the assessment.

    Your program should be focused on creating injury free, functional, strong, powerful, efficient and balanced athletes that can generate a lot of horsepower at increased work capacities.

    Stronger athletes are more durable athletes, which can
    withstand the long seasons year after year without getting injured. That’s all part of the planning process from day one.

  10. Elkyn Benavides says:

    Of course it is a must. I have a 9 year kid in water polo and the coach puts long resistance sessions (I think it is wrong) and the kids have a bad body posture (based on non-banlaced shoulder muscles). So I complement his development with weekend gymnastics for correction and the results are so good; next year I want to take him to skate for hip-legs development.
    I think injury prevention must focus each sport & person condition in order to work on specific weak link and obtain a balanced development.

  11. Alan says:

    The answer to that question should be a resounding “YES!!!” Injury prevention should be included in any youth fitness or sports training program. As a sports physical therapist with a sports performance program as part of my clinical business, I see far too many youth sports injuries that can be prevented by better coaching and training in proper form and technique. Too many coaches do drills for the sake of doing drills, with the reasoning that ‘the pro’s do it’ or ‘some other successful coach does it’, so I should do it, too. Unfortunately, the are not teaching the proper skills to safely do the drills, and which the drills are supposed to reinforce, thereby training the body in inefficient and potentially unsafe movement patterns. This is where many injuries occur. Simply teaching proper skills, form and technique and motor programming for proper movement patterns is, in itself, a form of injury prevention training.

  12. Jamie Carlson says:

    As an Athletic Therapist, I spend far too many hours rehabing injured university aged athletes and I’m sick of fixing s%&t that shouldn’t be broken. Many of the non-contact injuries that I see are a direct result of poor movement mechanics, muscle imbalances and a lack of balance and coordination. If the material that the IYCA is making available was implimented by many of the trainers that these athletes worked with as youngsters I could spend more time “preventing fires” rather than “putting out fires”

  13. Casey Wheel says:

    Brian and IYCA,

    I wrote a brief article about this on my blog. Injury prevention and increased performance are usually one in the same. It’s just making sure they have proper movement patterns, and getting them strong so the chance for injury goes down. If they are moving better and getting stronger I’m pretty sure that leads to better performance.
    I’m a firm believer of movement principles as a base for all performance training programs. This goes for 7 year olds and for League MVP’s. If the movement improves and gets stronger, the risk for injury decreases as well as performance should increase.

  14. Michael says:

    Yes, injury prevention training is a must for young athletes. There should be no doubt. Obviously, it should a part of a “well designed, function base, movement based program” as discussed above. And as we know certain “warm up” exercises do so while others do not. I believe the problem with those in the industry (to include athletes,parents, & sports coaches) is the proper education. A newer standard needs to be set. Thanks to the IYCA , other quality organizations, and quality fitness minds the bar is being raised. The entry level education for trainers, coaches, parents, and coaches needs to be updated.

  15. Michael says:

    I really can’t belive someone would have an argument about this. The bottom line is any program worth it’s salt will address both needs. injury prevention and athletic development feed off of each other they should be addressed in any program design.

  16. Devin says:

    What is your opinion?

  17. Joyce says:

    Wow! Love this topic because it is so important. I have read all of the responses and agree with them all…#15 from Michael is my response word for word. I coach mainly soccer teams. The coach I currently work for gets it. Thank goodness, but, most coaches do not. They do not understand the connection between performance and injury prevention. In most clubs, fitness consists of the sport coach or trainer running suicides or field sprints to get their players “in shape.” And in this economy, when money is short, the fitness program is cut because the sport coach can do it. Really? In my world, no child should have to play being vulnerable to some of these injuries that they will have for the rest of their life. I believe this is a real problem right now. I try to direct many of the coaches and parents I talk with to the IYCA site. I feel they could learn so much (as I have) but many just smile and say they should, but I bet they never do!

  18. Francois Nel says:

    Not all LTAD programs are created equal. And that for me is the problem about this subject matter. I am part of a group of people currently writing a LTAD for a sport in South Africa and had to study a number of different LTAD models.
    Some have very good injury prevention programs included as part of the whole process where others are extremely lacking in this area.
    Unfortunately some conditioning personal still thinks that a strength training program should be able to cover this issue. However more and more studies I am reading are actually pointing to a different area of training if you want to include injury prevention in your program.
    This is one of the main reasons why I am with the IYCA and have just completed my YFS Level 3.
    Looking forward to the next level.

  19. Patrick says:

    It’s simple. Gravity is your friend and it’s your enemy. You need it to move so it is imperative that we groove proper movement patterns to handle it. If not then injury occurs. If a program does not address this than you will see both a decrease in athleticism and an increase in risk of injury. Look, we all know ” injury prevention” is used more as a buzz word to put a little fear in the parent who does not want to see their kid get hurt. My goal is to get the kid to move better and produce. The side benefit is they happen to become more resistant to injury. You can’t have one without the other. Not if your doing things right.

  20. Many injury prevention programs target muscle imbalances. These imbalances lead to less efficient movement and therefore decreased performance. There is an alarming increase in injuries in youth sports in recent years that has been attributed to overuse and improper training. We incorproate proper mechanics and functional strength with all athletes which we feel will both increase performance and decrease injuries. We typically do not train athletes under the age of 10. As the athlete gets older and and their level of competetition improves, research shows that injuries become more common. Following this trend, we also incorporate more injury prevention exercises as our athletes get older. The exercises are chosen to prevent injuries common in the sport they play and are incorporated either during the “rest period” following a speed or power exercise or at the end of the session when the athlete is fatigued already.

  21. Philip, says:

    Brillant Topic!!! I believe that developmental exercises and injury prevention workouts both fall under the same title for me when training young athletes. In particular with the sport I specialize in G.A.A in Ireland. I also train many soccer teams and the difference between the level of performance training in these sports are huge. In soccer kids performance training is non-existant, there’s so much emphasis on the kids been scouted to travel to england to play professional football without any develpoment.

    Now on the other side young kids that play G.A.A who are training in my gym are goin through developmental programmes which will prevent injury and improve performance in their present and furture careers.
    My hope is that the kids I train will stay injury free as they progress through the years from screening and developing them at the right age through corrective movements.

  22. Aaron says:


    The first goal of ANY program should be, don’t get the athletes hurt during training. The second goal should be reduce their potential for injury on the field. After that should come performance.

    But here’s the catch: Most injuries in sport result from a loss of control. Whether this is lack of appropriate deceleration or simply from a sprained ankle. What parent would put their child in a program that makes them faster, but does not decrease the risk for injury. This is why adults “should” go to the gym – to reduce potential for injury. This could be a musculoskeletal injury or a cardiovascular injury. But nonetheless, it is still injury prevention.

    I think the only type of weightlifting program that does not have injury prevention almost innately embedded is a body building routine. Other than that, improvements in performance will only come as a result of reduced injury training.

    For example, how would an ACL Injury Prevention program differ from a soccer speed and agility program? They shouldn’t. You can call it by a different name, but the program should look the same.

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