At this age, your child is still growing. However, this is an excellent time to begin the phase of athletic development more thoroughly. When your child was younger, it was good for them to learn how to have fun. In addition, like untamed horses, your child was running around developing their cardiovascular system. The emphasis was on functional training exercises, stability, unilateral work, and good technique and skills. It was a perfect time to introduce good training habits for the next stage of development. Of course, you want to continue to work with those mentioned above, especially having fun. However, now you can modify and integrate some other aspects of training.
8 Training Program Guidelines
These aspects will set the foundation and prevent injury as your athlete advances over the years.
You can challenge and progressively increase the volume and intensity of training, not crush your child. Remember, every child is different. If you crush your kid, it is not suitable for their physical and mental growth.
1. Teach various exercises and movements that require coordination, stability, balance, changes in direction, and spatial orientation. Use a variety of exercises like sport-specific, functional and multilateral movements.
2. Design drills that continue to develop fundamentals to reinforce technique and skill development.
3. You can teach more complex skills, but only if the fundamentals exist. It is like playing the video game Pacman, and the joystick can’t move Packman to the right. Therefore, you can’t play the game effectively. Just like with skills, if you can’t move to right very well, it will affect advanced skill development.
4. Emphasize improving flexibility.
5. You can introduce your child to general strength training exercises, for example, Pull-ups, Bench Press, Rows, Shoulder Presses, Deadlift, Squats, Lunges. These exercises will develop the foundation to build strength.
6. Emphasize developing the core and the hips for stability and power.
7. Continue developing aerobic capacity.
8. Introduce specific anaerobic training. You can increase the amount and distance in sprinting. In younger athletes, sprints are usually to the 50-yard line. Now you can sprint the field. This will help them adapt to a higher anaerobic capacity.
When puberty starts, your child better understands coordination, balance, visual timing and perception, and rhythm. It is the phase these attributes begin. So, it becomes the perfect time to implement them. These attributes are not quite in their developed stage with younger kids. However, they need to be introduced at that time. It will stress the importance of these movements to be more thoroughly trained when older.
Use the KISS factor when teaching any skill, technique or movement pattern. Keep It So Simple. If it is too hard, they will not learn or disengage.
Strength Train, Don’t Bodybuild
Strength training is often confused and associated with bodybuilding. They are different. At this stage, don’t emphasize building big muscles. You can do strength training, and it is recommended to start as early as age 8, but you must keep it light. Too much weight puts too much stress on muscles and tendons. Bones are still developing at this time, and growth plates are still working. So, heavyweights are not advisable until later, at the age of 18. However, lightweights have a green light.
Tips To Start Your Child Strength Training
- Consult a professional. Find someone you trust and who has years of experience.
- Warm-up. Start each strength training session jogging or jumping rope for 5-10 minutes. This warms up the body and prepares it to do more intense training effectively.
- Cool down. End each session with a lower intensity exercise like walking to bring the body back to normal gradually. Doing this helps prevent fatigue and feeling tired.·
- Focus light. Focus on light resistance about 12-15 reps with proper technique and controlled movements. Show your child how to strength train using bodyweight movements, free weights, machines, med balls, and resistance bands. Two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions are enough.
- Emphasize proper technique. Your form serves as the basis of good functional technique. The technique is more important than weight. Form creates function, and function produces good movement.
- Supervision. Kids need supervision. It is easy for them to be tempted to do something they are not supposed to do, like lift heavyweights!
- Rest between workouts. Make sure your child rests a few days between workouts. They should only be doing this once or twice a week.
- Keep it fun and interesting. Change up the exercises so they can learn a variety of movements to connect with their sport.
The results at this age are not important; the foundation of being functional is essential. Compounding strength on asymmetry and poor alignment is unhealthy. It leads to injury if you are not balanced, stable, or functional enough to move well.
Check out my book, Instant Strength to know more about training and The Balanced Body to know more about stability and alignment.