Why youth athletes should be training during the off-season
Many youth athletes train during their off-season because “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This certainly holds true; off-season training gives athletes the time to improve their physical ability for stronger performance the next season, rather than resting for months at a time only to overwhelm their bodies when the season starts back up. While this is certainly a strong reason to continue training, the number one reason to train during the off-season is for injury prevention.
Many injuries for young athletes stem from overuse and lack of rest, so it’s important to allow the body to recover during the off season. Training during this time should focus on foundational movement patterns and overall strength and conditioning. Movement patterns include jumping, landing, pushing, pulling, squatting, etc. It’s important to know how to properly absorb force, a common occurrence in most youth sports.
With day-to-day activity involving sitting on a computer or in a classroom, jumping into a high training load can have a high risk of injury. Fundamental movement patterns provide a base for sport-specific skills. While you can focus on the sport-specific skills all you want, without proper movement patterns, you’re going to ultimately pay the price.
In addition to these movement patterns, strength training and conditioning is extremely important. Strength training can help stabilize joints and prevent associated injuries, such as ACL, sprained ankles, or stress fractures. While many of these injuries occur during the teen years, the most effective time to begin this training for injury prevention is actually around 8 years old. This gives young athletes the time to form proper movement patterns; as they gain strength and improve their performance, they’re able to keep their risk of injuries low.
When working with youth athletes, it’s important to consider the long term affects of their training regimen. While many coaches want to push their players as hard as possible, it’s important to know when to pull back and focus on the fundamentals. At M43, safety is our top priority. M43 Fitness owner, Scott Abramouski, has plenty of experience working with youth athletes. With a degree in Kinesiology, he helps athletes perfect their movement patterns and grow their strength to have a successful athletic career for years to come, not just the present season.