By Drew Wilson
Many members at Western Reserve Racquet and Fitness Club have asked me when a good time to start training their children on training for their respective sport and what should they be doing. The best way to explain this is to break athletes down by age groups. My training philosophy for athletes of various age groups is dependent on pre-high school, high school, and collegiate/pro. The pre-high school athlete should be trained by instructing the proper form for all functional sports-specific movements/drills with focus on developing the correct neural-pathways utilizing functional Olympic lifts at very low load. What this means is that you want the child to become consistent with sport related drills and exercise and use calisthenics in conjunction with Olympic lifting drills using a PVC pipe or broomstick. Once the athlete is in high school it is time to increase the difficulty of speed and coordination drills specific to their sport, this is also the time to begin conditioning with larger loads and utilize the body chemistry of an athlete going through puberty in order to maximize muscle growth, a main focus on speed and power. It is important to understand that not all children grow the same and there for some may not be ready to begin a lifting regiment with heavy weight until a few years into high school as to not risk damaging growth plates in the child/athlete. Finally, once an athlete is in college it is important to distinguish where and athlete is lacking. This is the first time many children will be working with a strength and conditioning coach but that doesn’t mean they can’t incorporate supplemental training in the off season or summer. Some may be under-powered or slower than needed so emphasis on speed and power is necessary, some may need only skill work in order to be confident enough to “play as they practice,” this stage is highly subjective depending on sport, position, gender, and where the athlete is in their respective macro cycle. At this stage if you want to help the athlete/child it is very important to keep in touch with them and their coach if possible on what you can do to maximize his or her success in their respective sport. If any members ever have any questions of which age group their child is, what are some sport specific drills, or how do I ensure proper form of Olympic lifts just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a note at the front desk with your contact info for Drew and I will gladly explain anything in much more detail.