Now that the flag football season if over, youth athletes may be in need of off-season conditioning to maintain or improve physical fitness. This is especially true if your child is not going to play another sport in the off-season. Even to the casual observers of flag football and youth sports in general, it will be evident that the best athletes are also the fittest athletes. Whether as an involved parent or as a flag football coach it makes sense to explore training methods that will enhance your child’s general fitness. One such method of conditioning is strength training.
Is Strength Training Safe For My Child?
Despite previous believes that strength training was harmful for a child’s developing body, professional organisations like the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) tell us that strength training can be a safe and effective activity for kids. Children 7 and 8 years old (and in some cases even younger) that have played organized sports or activities are generally ready to begin strength related activities.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training simply refers to a series of exercises performed in a systematic progression in order increase an athlete’s ability to exert or resist force. The goal of any strength activity should be to improve the muscle strength and fitness of our youths while teaching them safe, effective and fun training methods.
Some different types of strength training that can be beneficial to youth athletes are:
- Resistance Training – Encompasses exercises involving weights or machines
- Body Weight Exercises – Includes calisthenics such as push-ups and sit-ups
- Plyometric Exercise – Exercises that incorporate explosive movements like jumping, hopping and throwing
- Isometric Exercise – Static exercises such as Yoga or Pilates
What are the benefits of Strength Training?
There are many benefits of strength training for youth athletes and kids in general. Some of these are:
- Increased muscular strength
- Increased endurance
- Stronger more healthy bones
- Stronger tendons
- Stronger ligaments
- Lower sports related injury risk
- Leaner body composition
- Higher metabolism
- Improved physical capacity
- Improved self-confidence
- Improve sports performance not only football but in almost all sports
Given the multitude of benefits that come from good physical fitness, coaches and parents should consider encouraging their young players to begin an exercise regimen this off-season. However strength training should be just one part of the athlete’s off-season conditioning program. A full conditioning program should also include aerobic activities, stretching, and a healthy diet.
Improving fitness using these methods is a great way to build faster, stronger, healthier, and more confident kids.