Children & Resistance Training - Part 2
Brendan Chaplin examines the statement: Do children and adolescents need resistance training?
Fact or Fallacy: Children should not train with weights? There are a few questions to be answered in this debate which are:
Do they need resistance training?
Although I would say that young people who want to improve sports performance will generally benefit more from practicing and perfecting skills of the sport than from resistance training. In the days of sports being taken extremely seriously from a young age, the value of strength training to the young performer is increasingly important.
Take the early specialization high skill sports such as tennis, badminton, soccer and many more. Rightly or wrongly participants are often undertaking 10 or more hours of one sport per week, and obviously becoming very skilled at these sports. However, the time spent developing sport specific actions also creates asymmetries and imbalances meaning that injuries occur frequently in these juniors.
I am not in favour of early specialization; my view is that children should play as many sports as they can, and I would hope to go down this path with my own kids. But it appears that I am in the minority, and these injuries are occurring in some of these sports.
If you are working with these sports as a trainer or S&C coach, you really have to take the line of it is unethical to not be strengthening the key areas to give these kids a chance to continue playing.
On top of that you have a more sedentary youth population nowadays. It is all well and good saying play sports but are they really going to do it? Parents look to trainers and S&C coaches to provide that physical stimulus to their children as they will not get it elsewhere. It is a niche that is growing and provides fun and challenging work for us coaches.
To be honest, even in the late specialization sports such as rugby union the argument is exactly same, just a little more delayed.
Here is a quote from the RFU (2007) position statement of youth strength training:
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About the Author
Brendan Chaplin is currently Head of Strength and Conditioning at Leeds Metropolitan University. In this role Brendan oversees all performance programmes across the university as well leading on the GB Badminton High performance Programme, Yorkshire Jets Super league netball, Women's FA through the English Institute of Sport, and Rugby League. Brendan is also the regional lead for TASS where he delivers and co-ordinates delivery for all funded athletes based at the Leeds Hub site. He also consults with England Golf and works with a wide variety of athletes from martial artists to cyclists, children and adolescents alike. Prior to his current role Brendan has worked with a number of governing bodies and institutions including British Tennis, Huddersfield Giants, English Institute of Sport, Durham University and many more.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: