Athlete Training Needs to Be Specific
We believe it is important to provide education and in person strength and conditioning opportunities for youth athletes. Most information in books and online is just plain wrong. Influencers falsely advertise PDF training programmes and most fitness programmes online are targeted at experienced, general population people and not athletes.
If you want to develop strength, increase speed and agility and maximize your potential as an athlete – strength and conditioning training needs to be important part of your plan.
Movement Patterns for Young Athletes
I trained over a thousand athletes while working as a strength and conditioning coach in America and continue to work with football, G.A.A., Irish Dancing and Swimming teams. Each sport requires different movements. This means that all our programmes look different. However, there are some things which we can say to be generally true.
- Young athletes need to have good flexibility and mobility- especially lower body and at the hip joint.
- Single leg strength, balance and stability is important
- The fastest and most powerful athletes are almost always the best athletes.
- Upper and lower body strength is important but a long term approach must be used.
Best Hip Mobility Exercises for Young Athletes
The exercises below can be used before training sessions or they could be completed at home as no gym equipment is required. Hip mobility exercises can be completed as reps or time-based exercises.
Bodyweight Lateral Drag
Best Single Leg Exercises for Young Athletes
Most field based sports require athletes to be explosive and strong on one leg. There are many progressions and exercises that can be used to help with this. We have selected 5 for this example.
1 to 2 Broad Jumps
Single Leg Line Jumps
Single Leg Dumbbell RDL
Best Exercises to Increase Power
The examples below focus mainly on lower body exercises as these seem to have the biggest benefit for most young athletes. Every exercise in this section should be completed with high effort and be as explosive and fast as possible.
Band Resisted Skater Jump
Best Progressions for Upper and Lower Body Strength
We generally recommend starting with bodyweight or band resistance exercises. Once technique is mastered, athletes should then move onto kettlebell and dumbbell exercises. Once this becomes difficult to progress the athlete can now safely move onto barbell based movements.
In the bullet points below we provide six progressions that can be used to increase lower body strength for young athletes. Young athletes should never feel pressured to add weight to an exercise.
- Plate Squat to Press
- Goblet Squat to Box or Bench
- Dumbbell Squat
- Hex Bar Deadlift
- Box Squat
- Back Squat
We hope this article provides some practical insights on how young athletes should train to improve sport performance.
See our previous articles related to youth strength and conditioning.