Today’s youth sports culture is misguided in the way of developing young athletes. Many parents and coaches think that if kids specialize early and practice their sport-specific skills, they’ll rise to the top. Study after study indicates, that’s not how successful athletes are developed.
Some of these specialized athletes dominate early with their skills. Then between the ages of 12 and 15 they are passed over by kids who have taken time to develop general athleticism through participation in multiple sports and have developed explosive speed and strength as a result of a functional training program. Good skills can’t make up for a lack of strength, speed, and quickness. Stronger, more athletic kids will eventually dominate; they’ll also be more resilient to injuries and experience more longevity in sports.
As athletes become bigger, stronger, and more physical—while striving to stay ahead of the curve in order to compete—functional strength training becomes essential for injury prevention.
Although well-meaning athletes, parents, and coaches look to popular fitness and bodybuilding material for information on strength training, very few resources have reliable advice on functional sports training, and most resources emphasize the bodybuilding philosophy of isolating muscle groups.
Bodybuilders may have impeccable physiques. Many also have chronic injuries and few would function well on as an athlete. The bodybuilding philosophy of strength training leads to greater risks for injury on and off the field—and it negatively impacts key athletic components, such as speed, power, balance, and agility.
Remember that strength is not the primary goal of a sports training program. Of major importance is functional strength—the sort of strength called for on the playing field.
At YouthSportsTrainer.com, with a vision toward long-term athletic development, I design developmentally appropriate strength and conditioning programs for youth athletes. I also provide science-driven advice for coaches and parents about injury prevention, as well as strategies to build confidence, resilience, creativity, empathy, sociability, integrity, and resourcefulness through sports.