Youth S&C can be undervalued so below I highlight three of what I feel are the main game changing elements of this specialist area of coaching.
Strength has been shown to be a fundamental aspect of performance in any sport. But this isn’t something that should be thrown into an athlete’s training once they are over 18 and fully participating at a high level.
Strength should be taught and developed from a young age especially as these days kids are less likely to be outside running and jumping with their friends.
Strength is the crux of skeletal stability and crucially it can be developed in a way that is sport specific but it takes time and patience.
Power, put simply, is Strength x Speed so you cannot be a powerful athlete without being strong. Strength and Conditioning cleverly masters these variables in a way that will develop powerful athletes from early on in their training.
Speed and agility are crucial aspects of many sports. The quickest athlete will get to the ball first! There is so much fun to be had with speed and agility drills for young people and typically they really enjoy this aspect of coaching.
These areas of coaching enhance performance and can be developed with age appropriate and safe methods.
This is definitely one of the most important benefits of S&C coaching. If young athletes aren’t robust enough for the demands of their sport then they are much more likely to get injured and unfortunately sometimes these injuries can be life altering. Structural strength and good motor control need to be developed early on to decrease injury risk.
Confidence in movement quality
Coaching young people to move well through the fundamental strength techniques – Squat, Lunge, Push, Pull and Hinge as well as developing a robust core and trunk will instil confidence for life.
Whatever level they reach and even if they don’t continue a particular sport for life, they will take their strength and conditioning coaching with them.
It’s sometimes surprising to me that young children aren’t taught for example, how to squat properly in their basic P.E. lessons in school. Young girls are much more likely to drop out of sport in their teens but I wonder if this could be mitigated if they are given confidence from coaches who can really teach and assess movement quality that will make them strong and capable for life.
Strength and conditioning builds excellent teams and individuals but it doesn’t happen by chance. It takes planning, knowledge and expert coaching and thankfully more youth clubs and teams are employing S&C coaches. Childhood and adolescence is the most effective time to develop strength and technique and will take your sport to the next level as well as keeping you safer from injury.
It's never too late but I do wish that back when I was a youth competitive runner I’d had an S&C coach. I know I would have reached more of my potential which is why it’s a delight to be offering this to youths now.