Why Junior strength training is important for athletic development through sport.

The idea of strength training for junior athletes has, for a long time, been thought of as unnecessary and counter-productive. Theories thrown around in regards to stunted growth plates, soft ligament injuries, the young body isn’t ready for weight loading…HOWEVER – This could not be further from the truth!

These thoughts have been produced via a lack of knowledge on the topic, societies perceptions and myths.
Strength training, like sports, is a skill. The best time to learn a new skill is at a young age, where the athletes can explore new ways to move and understand their body. If we can engrain correct movement patterns in pre-adolescent athletes, imagine where they could be in 5-10 years in comparison to an athlete who only started at 18 years old?

There are many reasons why strength training for junior athletes is important.

Firstly, let’s be real – kids aren’t as active as they used to be. They spend much less time outdoors, climbing trees, riding bikes and all those other natural strength building activities. This means they are missing out on a big part of their physical growth and maturation. Parents need to seek out alternative ways to incorporate strength training to aid in their child’s long-term development.

Junior strength training is all about laying the foundations of correct movements patterns, basic strength, coordination and timing. Things such as jumping, landing, change of direction, sprinting and basic strength movements in a safe and enjoyable setting. Just like a toddler learns to walk before they run, junior athletes must also learn the basic, body weight movements before they even THINK about adding a weight. Learning and mastering these movements at a young age will actually DECREASE your child’s risk of getting injured. It is true, junior athletes are at higher risk of injury, as they are going through a rapid change of growth and development. However, increasing in the strength of the muscle and connective tissues through resistance training can enhance the ability of the athlete to withstand higher external forces, decreasing their chance of being injured. This is where entrusting the knowledge of an exercise scientist or strength and conditioning expert is vital,  to prescribe the correct exercises and progressions.
A stronger junior athlete will be better prepared to learn more complex movements, master their sporting tactics and withstand the rigours of a long sporting life, while also giving them the tools needed to take their athletic performance to the next level as they physically mature.

Lastly, when you are involved in something at a young age that you saw benefits from that was also enjoyable, you are more likely to continue participating in it later in life. If we can build an understanding of the important of strength and resistance training in young athletes, they are much more likely to continue long past their sporting days are over. This can drastically improve quality of life, decrease risk of lifestyle related disease and degenerative injuries.

If your child is a junior athlete, and you want them to be involved in a structured, progressive and safe physical development program, keep an eye out for our Axis Performance Junior Athletic Development program, starting in February 2019!