How young is ‘too young’ to start training?: Part 3
Welcome to the third and final instalment in our series on the contentious topic, ‘how young is ‘too young’ to start training’. In parts 1 and 2, we dispelled the myth that youth athletes under the age of 18 shouldn’t partake in strength and conditioning, and considered some of the key components that must be included in a youth strength and conditioning programme in order for it to be appropriate and effective. In part 3 we discuss why individualisation is so important in youth strength and conditioning and provide some practical examples of this. If you missed either part 1 or part 2 then click here to read them.
One-Size-Fits-All Gym Class
How many times have you gone into a gym and seen a class that is run with a one-size-fits-all approach?
Whilst some classes do try to differentiate within the group to cater for different ages and abilities, for the vast majority this isn’t the case…nor is it feasible in a large group with just one coach.
This is why it is crucial that youth strength and conditioning is conducted with smaller athlete to coach ratios in order to optimise youth development by being able to:
- Differentiate between athletes
- Ensure the emphasis is on correct technique (bigger groups result in less coach contact time per athlete meaning poor technique may slip through the net)
Issues with Chronological Age
Everyone remembers the guy at school who was a foot taller than everybody else his age and had a beard two years before anyone else? Safe to say, children all mature at different rates.
Due to the processes of growth (change in body composition or body size) and maturation (the variable timing and tempo of progressive change in the body from childhood to adulthood), it is not particularly accurate to define a stage of maturation or development by a child’s chronological age (their age in years and months) [1, 2]. Indeed, paediatric data shows that physical performance in youth athletes progresses in a nonlinear fashion due to the influence of growth and maturation .
Importance of Training Age