Summer is here, and it is a great time to expose your children to an activity that improves athleticism and self-confidence. Most kids play sports, and while that’s a good way to stay active more and more families are looking for their children to get the most out of their athletic experiences by participating in weight and SAQ (speed, agility, quickness) training. If your child is not already engaging in a structured training program this summer may be a good time to start. This article will address what exactly youth training is, and why it is beneficial for those that embark on a program.
A Youth Strength & Conditioning Program
So what does a training program look like for a child, and at what age can they begin? In my experience, children as young as 8 can benefit from a consistent training program. Of course, a youth training program and an adult training program will have a few significant differences. Youth training will initially start with many bodyweight or lightweight training exercises. Like with any trainee, proper technique and safety is of primary importance. Youth training programs also focus much more on running technique, agility, and conditioning exercises to properly prepare trainees to perform well in their sport(s) of choice.
What does a program for a young athlete look like? Here is a brief sample:
-Warm-up: Bear Crawl/Crab Walk 2 (sets)x10yd each
-Agility Ladder+10yd Sprints for time
Improvements to Athletic Ability
You may also be wondering if having your child begin a training program is safe, and what improvements can be expected? First, training is a very safe activity for a child assuming they have a well qualified/experienced trainer or coach. The last part ensures that the youth trainee is performing exercises in the correct way and with the correct intensity for their level of advancement. I currently have hundreds of hours of coaching experience with youth trainees ages 8-15, and in that time I’ve seen a number of benefits from my youth clients performing consistent training. Physically, the biggest improvement I see is increases in coordination and body awareness. Kids learn to move better when practicing appropriate exercises, and this in turn improves performance in training and in sports. Along with the above improvements comes more strength. Kids don’t typically improve their strength as quickly as adults (though older teenagers do) and they don’t really build extra muscle. I attribute this to pre-adolescence and the lack of appropriate hormones to create higher strength and muscle gains.
A Self Confidence Boost
The benefits of training are not isolated to physical improvement. Possibly the biggest plus I see to children performing consistent training is an increase in self-confidence. I have heard this many times from parents of trainees when describing their new attitude in other areas of life. We all have the potential to make significant improvements in our physical abilities, and seeing that as a young person I feel is very important and valuable. Youth trainees also have the chance to work hard and see positive results from their efforts. This ends up creating a nice positive feedback loop, and will likely carry over into other activities they engage in as they grow. Finally, with the right coach and structure, youth trainees should enjoy their training program. It can be just plain fun to push yourself to improve in a variety of challenging physical activities.
Another Tool for Your Child’s Development
I believe there is immense value in training for all ages, and as you can see that includes the youth population. Now school is out and your children have more time and energy to spend on positive activities, now may be the time to explore a summer training program. This program will include movement prep, strength, speed, and agility exercises individualized to the trainee. Kids who consistently perform this type of training will see improvements in coordination, strength, work ethic, and self confidence. Youth training is an activity you can expect to pay off both physically and mentally for your child, and something fun that they can start on this Summer.