Getting Kids Ready for Sports

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Do you have children that are currently active in sports or getting ready to join a sport? Do you want them to be at the top of their game? Ever wonder if they should strength train? When is the right age children should start strength training?

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), strength training can be started with kids as young as 7 or 8 years old, as long as they show some interest, can perform the exercises safely, and follow instructions. Specific exercises should be learned without resistance, such as squats, push-ups, and cleans, until proper technique is mastered.

One of the most important things to remember is that strength training should not be confused with weight lifting, bodybuilding, or power lifting. In these sports, people train with very heavy weights which can put kids and teens at risk for injuring their growing bones, muscles, and joints. Strength training is the practice of using free weight, weight machines, and rubber resistance bands, or body weight to build muscles.

Strength Training can help fortify the ligaments and tendons that support the muscles and bones and improve bone density. It can also help improve endurance, total fitness level, sports performance, and also help prevent injuries and speed up recovery. Now don’t think that the benefits are just for physical health because they go beyond that. Strength training can also help young kids and teens feel better about themselves as they get stronger and also help put your child on a path to lifelong health and fitness.

Now whether you decide to have your child start a strength training regime or not is completely up to you, but if you do keep these guidelines in mind:

1) Seek instruction- Start with a coach / personal trainer who has experience with youth strength training.

2) Warm up and cool down- 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity helps warm up the muscles and prepares them for more vigorous activity.

3) Keep it light- One set of 12-15 repetitions is usually all it takes.

4) Stress proper technique- Don’t focus on the amount of weight your child lifts, rather stress proper form and technique.

5) Supervise- Don’t let your child go alone! Adult supervision is an important part of youth strength training.

6) Rest between workouts- Rest at least one full day between exercising each specific muscle group.

7) Keep it fun- Help your child vary the routine to prevent boredom.

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