The benefits of strength and conditioning training for younger athletes

INCORPORATING strength and conditioning (S&C) into a comprehensive training plan is an opportunity to lay a solid athletic foundation which can raise athletic potential, as well as improve quality and range of movements in young athletes.

Rob Nitman and Matt Dickens, programming & coaching directors at Ascend Performance, recently sat down with Alistair Rosier, head of sales and marketing for Absolute Performance, to discuss the importance and benefits of S&C training in schools and other youth sports organisations.

Developing core motor patterns

When schools introduce S&C into their training programme using qualified coaches, it teaches young athletes how to move well and train properly, helping to build good training habits and improve young athletes’ coordination. It can also help develop motor patterns when they train and participate in sports in the future, and reduce the risk of injury.

Rob explains that “a professional programme will provide a structured and progressive method for making physical improvements that translate into improved performance in sports”. Matt adds “[coaches] consider growth patterns in young athletes, because their coordination, stability and tolerance to training will change as they grow, so paying close attention to this will ensure the correct adjustment to their training load.”

Boosting motivation & resilience

It’s been proven that the benefits to young athletes adding strength and conditioning into their training will improve their motivation and boost athletic resilience, making children more likely to perform well when it counts.

Sports such as rugby, football and netball seem to be the most likely to incorporate strength and conditioning, but all sports and athletes could benefit from this type of training. Rob adds “improvements will be seen in movement quality and physical capabilities.”

Recommendations from Ascend Performance

To get started with adding strength and conditioning exercises, Rob and Matt, both of whom are UKSCA accredited, recommend equipment including dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance bands, sleds, barbells, and plates. As they explain, “this equipment is highly versatile, so they’re ideal to begin with as they will teach simple movements, control, and body mechanics that they will use for the rest of their lives.”

Using the right professional strength and conditioning equipment means that young athletes will be able to train in a safe and enjoyable environment. Through this, they will learn above all, how important technique is, and when to add weight to avoid injury.

Absolute Performance are leaders in the design, installation and equipping of high-performance S&C facilities. Alistair adds “we have years of experience in creating strength and conditioning spaces for the education sector, we see it as a core component of a young athlete’s development”.

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