4 Strength Training Patterns Youth Athletes Need to Know

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.

  1. Young athletes need to have good flexibility and mobility- especially lower body and at the hip joint.
  2.  Single leg strength, balance and stability is important
  3. The fastest and most powerful athletes are almost always the best athletes.
  4. 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.

90/90 Rotations

Bodyweight Lateral Drag

Band Deadbug

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.

Box Jumps

Band Resisted Skater Jump

Kettlebell Swings

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.


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.

Power and Strength Standards for Youth Soccer Players

Strength & Conditioning Advice for Young Football Players