Archive for “Adolescent Athletes” Tag

Youth Sports Training Technique: Part 2

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Group One, Group Two & Group Three youth sports training classifications… But what else?

 

Here’s Part 2:

 

How efficiently an athlete learns the technical skills of a sport, strength training exercise or movement is determined by several variables –

 

Age – Complex skills are often understood and comprehended better by more mature athletes (although individual exceptions certainly apply).

 

Emotional State – Relaxed and easy-going athletes tend to learn and reproduce new skills better than athletes who are uptight and self-critical.

 

Motivation (more…)

Overtraining Young Athletes – Part 1

 

 

Young Athletes

I have long supported the notion that the zeal many Trainers and Coaches show with respect to conducting high intensity training sessions with young athletes is akin to the unsure actor who feels a need to "over-do" his or her role in a given appearance for fear that the audience may disapprove of his acting ability.

 

Almost like a "they paid for it and now I must deliver it" mind set.

As a Coach, you sometimes feel as though you must have your athletes walk away from a training session dripping with sweat and barely able to open their car doors. After all, if they don’t feel as though you are ‘training them hard enough’, they may opt to go and seek the services of a different Coach.

 

The problem is that overtraining syndromes are not hard to develop with adolescent athletes and must be recognized as an issue with respect to programming.

 

For ease of explanation sake, let’s just say that if your athlete walks into your training center at what would constitute a normal biological level, and if your training stimulus was at an intensity that would enable the athlete to dip below this normal biological level, but not be too much so as to not be able to ascend into a level of super-compensation, then, well… that would be good.

 

But there are energies in the world that effect an athletes recoverability from a training session (you know… recovery… that’s the part of the training routine during which your athlete’s body actually makes improvements and gains).

 

For example:

 

– Nutrition
– Emotional Stress
– Sleep

 

Let’s examine those individually for a second.

 

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Youth Strength Training Mistakes

 

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Youth Strength Training Done Right

Should pre-adolescent kids lift weights or shouldn’t they? Will it stunt their growth or increase their likelihood of future sporting success? Is growth plate damage a real concern or merely an exaggerated issue?

 

This debate has raged on for years.

 

Hopefully, this article will help clear up some of the concerns on youth strength training.

 

To start, there are definitive differences between adolescent boys and adolescent girls with respect to strength and strength production. In boys, absolute muscular strength (the greatest amount of force an individual can produce) grows consistently between the ages of 7 – 19. In girls, strength gains are incurred on a consistent level until about the age of 15, when a period of stagnation occurs and strength gains plateau, and in fact begins to fall. By the end of the pubescent ages, boys are roughly 50% stronger than girls.

 

There are several factors to consider when programming strength training for young athletes –

 

Central Nervous System Maturity – The true argument with respect to children and weight lifting should not be based on the maturity (or in this case immaturity) of the child’s muscular system, but rather the advancement of the child’s CNS. Within proper application of load, volume and intensity, a child’s muscular system will not be compromised by weight training activities. However, a lack of motor control (a function of the CNS) will affect the child’s ability to perform weight-training exercises safely. It is therefore the maturity of the CNS that is the ultimate determining factor.

 

Cross Section Of Muscle – A larger muscle infers a greater strength potential. While hypertrophy of this sort is not hormonally possible with pre-adolescent athletes, this fact is why I advocate that early adolescent athletes train with hypertrophy-based responses in mind.

 

Biological Maturity – Biological age, unlike a child’s chronological age, is not actually visible. Biological age is based in large part to the “physiological development of the various organs and systems in the body” (Bompa, 2000). For example, the adequate development of bone, the efficiency of the heart and lungs to transport oxygen; these are examples of items that comprise biological age. This becomes important when determining the volume or intensity of the training program for the young athlete.

 

Hormonal Issues – Androgenic (muscle building) hormones are low in pre-adolescent athletes. This means that hypertrophy-based responses are all but impossible. Strength gains, however, are very possible.

 

Technical Issues – Providing a proper foundation of the technical merits of youth strength training is paramount when working with youngsters.

 

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The Speed Training Secret

Speed Training Coaching

I received this great question from a reader earlier this week:

 

"Hi Brian. When training young athletes 8 – 12, what are the most important concepts of speed and acceleration to teach or stress?"

 

The answer, my friends, is none of them…

 

… Well not really, anyways.

 

If I were to look solely at speed training and acceleration development with pre-adolescent athletes, my suggestion would be strength. Strength is an often forgotten variable in the speed and power equation and quite a critical component to the matrix of developing young athletes.

 

But the actual answer is deceleration skills.

 

To decelerate well means that you are in a position to re-accelerate effectively.

 

It means that you are likely one of the ‘fastest’ kids on the field (remember – it’s not who runs the fastest… it’s who can change direction quickest and with the most ease).

 

It means that you are likely injury-free (a combination of strength and quality mechanical understanding are the two greatest factors I have seen in terms of reducing the likelihood of knee and ankle injuries).

 

Now when teaching proper deceleration skills, it is critical that you move from Closed to Open Habits.

 

Closed Habits – skills being executed in a static environment.

 

Open Habits – skills that are adaptable to varying conditions and situations.

 

Closed Habits remove the external concerns of adjunct movement, opponents, teammates, speed and objects like a ball or puck.

 

In essence, Closed Habit skills are taught in the beginning stages of learning a given movement or series of movements.

 

For example, with my ‘Principles of Movement’ chapter and DVD in Complete Athlete Development (www.CompleteAthleteDevelopment.com) I show how to teach both linear and lateral deceleration skills starting with repeating the motion from a static environment.

 

Eventually, you move into more advanced variations of learning and mastering these skills, such as repeating them in harmony with a random cueing from a coach or trainer.

 

At this level, the skills are known as Open Habits.

 

It is the progression of learning quality deceleration skills that make young athletes truly ‘fast’, ‘quick’ and ‘agile’.

 

Not the answer you were looking for on speed training, perhaps