The Young Athlete – By Marquis Edwards

When most people think of an athlete’s training routine, they usually picture programs focused around getting the athlete bigger, faster, and stronger. Although these are important factors in providing athletes an edge within their respective competition, but the athlete should first be able to move and control their own body weight.

Proper progression within a training program is imperative in maintaining their longevity and providing a lower risk of injury. When training a young athlete, teaching the body how to move well is our first priority. A couple of examples are: an athlete should be able to perform a push-up before they are asked to bench press or squat before they are asked to perform a box jump. Effective communication will ensure proper form and technique within the given exercises and the young athlete will naturally increase strength as they develop movement competencies due to increased neurological stimuli.

Because we know that adolescents and youth athletes will naturally gain some strength when starting a resistance training program, movements focused around body control and spatial awareness can be emphasized. As an adolescent matures, they will have an adjustment period as they figure out how to move their bodies efficiently during and after growth occurs. We can help the athletes progress through this “bambi-like” stage by teaching and forcing them to properly accelerate, decelerate, and efficiently change direction with both visual and auditory stimuli.

With youth athletes it’s best if we keep it simple. We want to provide a challenging environment so they are being pushed to grow physically and mentally, but above all we want to keep them safe and engaged while having fun.

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