Unit 13, 47 Grange Rd, Cheltenham, Melbourne, Victoria 3192

In-Season Strength Training for Youth Athletes

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In-Season Strength Training for Youth Athletes

Strength training is incredibly important to building strong and powerful athletes, but also athletes who are resilient and able to remain injury free for as long as possible.

The pre-season is a great time to build a strong base of strength and volume while being able to progressively increase and play around with levels of muscle soreness to help facilitate muscle hypertrophy. However, during the season you want to limit the amount of muscle soreness experienced from strength training as this can hinder performance in training and games but also leave your young athlete with a higher chance to pick up injuries.

Focusing on the concentric or the 'up' portion of lifts and reducing the amount of eccentric or 'lowering' movements can reduce the amount that muscles are broken down. This can be done by dropping the weight safely or reducing the range of motion eg: box squats. Keeping the weight high and volume low eg: 3 sets of 3 reps at 85% can keep strength levels the same without the excessive build up of fatigue.

By maintaining the high intensity during the season, your young athlete is continuing to promote high force production. Greater force production and maximal strength is the basis for both speed and power, and so neglecting these qualities will only lead to diminished explosiveness throughout the season.

Your young athlete's two most important qualities have are availability and durability. Are they available to play (eg: injury free) and are they durable enough to withstand the demands of the game and continue to excel? A stronger athlete generally can remain injury free for longer. However, targeting little muscle groups that are often forgotten or prone to overuse injuries is just as important to strengthen. Common sites of injury include the shoulders, back, hips, knees and ankles.

These joints are very mobile and therefore lack the stability and rigidity for protection during high impact and velocity movements in the specific sport your teen plays. This is why it is particularly important to train the supporting muscles and tissue especially in the common movement's patterns of their sport.

The same way strength can be lost if you don't use it often enough, you can just as easily lose your speed and explosiveness. During games and training, an athlete is unlikely to ever be reaching their maximum speed as most sports are too stop/start and reactive in nature to allow this to occur.

Ensuring your youth athlete is maintaining enough high speed, high intensity efforts each week will allow their lower body to remain resilient enough to limit injuries, but also maintain and slightly increase their speed throughout the season. Micro dosing a high speed session (eg: 4-5 10-30m acceleration efforts after warm up) every 2-3 days is a great way to keep speed work to their schedule, whilst managing the total amount of fatigue acquired.

For further information to help your young athlete improve their sporting performance, contact us today.

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS)

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