High school sports can be very demanding for young athletes. Practice is often 5-6 days a week for 2-3 hours a day in the preseason. During competition season, athletes will have games (or meets) and tournaments 1-3 days a week. For many kids this is their first exposure to a full sports season and intense competition. Even at the JV high school level, athletes will encounter tough competition that is taken more seriously than in middle school or lower-level club sports. The high school varsity level is competitive in nearly in every sport. Depending on popularity, making the varsity team can be tough. This is why in-coming high school athletes need to be well prepared for long practices and high-level competitions BEFORE they even start their preseason practices.
In “Training The High School Athlete” I talked about 4 main points: safety, movement quality, joint stability, and beginner strength development. For middle school athletes movement quality and joint stability is highly emphasized. Often bodyweight exercises, machines, and light weights are chosen for both learning purposes and safety concerns. It is much easier for a kid to learn a proper exercise if they are not focused on a heavy implement. Also, it is very unlikely for them to become injured when lifting 10 pound dumbbells.
Correcting Basic Movements
Middle School kids will need to learn how to properly squat, lunge, press, and pull. There are so many ways they can do these movements incorrectly. Wobbly knees, rounded spines, and unstable shoulders are common when learning how to lift weights. We want to correct these misalignments as soon as possible so kids can get the most out of their sport practices. Strength will be built simply on the fact that they are able to maintain better athletic posture and positioning. There are many movements that need to be learned in addition to these basic exercises.
Strengths are built automatically when training. If a kid is fast, they will often use their speed to out run their opponent making them train their speed further. They will use their physical gifts to their advantage and they are also more likely to practice their strengths on their own. It's always more fun to practice the things you are good at.
It is important to improve their weaknesses in relation to their activities. Correcting weaknesses will help them overcome technical deficiencies which will greatly improve their sports performance and reduce injuries. This takes patience since it will take longer to improve and will often be uncomfortable. Some examples include:
Learning to work hard
When training middle school kids, I will have them spend the majority of the time learning technique. Less emphasis is put on pure grit, so instead they learn to work hard by staying focused while doing the exercise and not waste time in between sets.
Learning to push yourself when working on athletic conditioning is also important. This is often performed by some form of running or with a series of exercises. Since these are simpler movements, we can work on getting used to the discomfort that comes with endurance work.
If you are interested in having your young athlete learn the basics of weight training, check out our Foundational Strength Training Class or one on one personal training.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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