A few weeks ago i wrote a very well received article in relation to Strength and Conditioning for youth athletes (see it here – “Strength and Conditioning for Youths – Start them Early”). This article highlighted the distinct need for quality Strength and Conditioning coaches to be working with youth and young teenage athletes. There are so many benefits to get youth athletes started with a quality strength and conditioning program, and by all means read my thoughts in the highlighted article.
As my role as Strength and Conditioning coach at Barking Abbey Sports Academy in London. I am very privileged to work with some of the best age group basketball players in the country. In an ideal world i would love to see these athletes on a daily basis. However anyone that has worked within the academy set up will feel my pain, as this is not possible due to school, team and extracurricular commitments. I work in what can only be described as a very modest facility at Barking (see it here) but it enables me to get the job done. My training philosophy when looking at strength and conditioning for youth athletes, is simple.
- Keep them healthy
- Teach and reinforce technical competence (in all movements)
- Get them stronger in these movements.
I believe that these three goals should be the foundation of any strength and conditioning program, but are vitally important when dealing with strength and conditioning for youth athletes. When working with these athletes, they have a zero or very young training age, and as a result are very adaptable. A solid structured program can see them make some impressive gains in a relatively short amount of time, predominantly due to positive changed in the neural pathways, and motor unit recruitment. As strength and conditioning coaches this is where we can sometimes get carried away and progress them far too quickly. Once technically competent it is essential that we hard wire these correct motor patterns and not allow them to slip. Often overloading them too soon can result in a drop in technically proficiency We as coaches must also understand that it takes time for these athletes to develop the strength in their connective tissue to be able to absorb all the forces that are thrown at them from their sport and S&C programs. Too often i see coaches and youth athletes work with unsuitable loads, only for their technical proficiencies, that you have work hard to instil; to falter and have the athlete regressing, and often leading to injury.
Below is a short video of two of my youth athletes that i have been progressing over the course of the season. Both are becoming more comfortable in the weight room and with a barbell. They are really buying into what a quality strength and conditioning program can do for them on the court. While understanding that being patient and hard wiring these movements before overloading will go a long way to keeping them on the court and out the physio room.