Is strength training safe for youth athletes?

According to the UKSCA (United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association), ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association), NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) and BASES (British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences) consensus statements, strength training is safe and effective for youth athletes if prescribed and supervised by a qualified professional that ensures that the exercises are being conducted with the correct techniques, age appropriate loading and that the correct progressions are followed.

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(www.rlcm.com.au)

Strength training also helps ensure that youth athletes bodies are physically prepared for the forces they may experience during their actual sports that they are involved with, hence decreasing the risk of injuries.

What are your thoughts on this?

Wayne

 

 

One comment

  1. Stonehead

    I think it’s vital for young players to do appropriate conditioning work to prepare them for the demands of the game, decrease their risk of injury and increase their efficiency (if they play better, they’ll enjoy themselves more), but I would as I’ve studied sports science (including specific attention to developing and conditioning pre-pubescent and pubescent athletes) and am working towards accredited status with UKSCA. However, I find it almost impossible to to persuade amateur clubs in my part of Scotland to introduce conditioning as part of the training programme for young players as the myths are too firmly entrenched and no amount of evidence is going to change people’s minds. For example, I attended a rugby club meeting for U15/16 players and parents to discuss the then forthcoming season. The previous year’s players said they’d been “hammered” at the start of that season as they weren’t fit enough or strong enough to compete against players who attend independent schools and do a lot of rugby specific conditioning. I suggested the club should consider introducing S&C pre-season training for the most interested players and offered to help with it. The reception was very poor—the team secretary said “we don’t want our boys being overdeveloped like theirs”, one S1/2 coach said “strength and conditioning is far too dangerous for growing lads and I won’t allow it” and the other said “the lads are naturally fit anyway”, and the then VP Rugby said “it’s something for the 1st XV and we’ve never needed it in the youth teams”. I’ve tried, many times over the years, to put the evidence to club officials and coaches, plus players and parents, that appropriate S&C training leads to stronger bones and connective tissues, to improvements in range of motion at joints, to improved flexibility, to other physiological improvements, to reductions in injury and tp improvements in healing after injury etc. No one is interested, no matter how carefully and diplomatically the proposition is put because “common sense” and established practice is that S&C for young players is “wrong”. Meanwhile, my own sons are praised for their “natural athleticism”. Guess what? I told them that if they wanted to play rugby then they had to train smart and be able to take the rigours of the game. They agreed, so they do age and development appropriate S&C work with me. It’s not natural athleticism they’re displaying—it’s the outcome of informed training.

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