Should my active child begin to strength train? That’s a tough question with tons of information available that creates more questions. Placing your child in strength training is beneficial to a child and can keep them resilient to injury and improve performance. During these times, having a professional strength coach is key for numerous reasons.
Kids are beginning to partake in year-round sports more frequently. In fact, many of these kids just play their sport hoping they will improve. Unfortunately, some kids find themselves in a rut in their respective sport or getting injured because they are working so hard, desperately wanting to see their accolades pile up so they can use a slightly different path to get into the schools of their dreams. But, when they don’t see improvement or an injury has sidelined them for a season, it is easy for a parent to talk their kid into “putting their sport to the side” and being fully dedicated to their school work. And alas another kid’s hope and dreams to partake in a collegiate athletic program is lost. A big piece of the puzzle that can help improve skill, confidence, and build more resilience to injury is through a strength coach.
What is a Strength Coach?
A Strength and Conditioning coach’s duty is to:
- Remove your limitations
- Improve your weaknesses
- Maximize your strengths
They create an individualized program that is tailored to that individual’s needs and progresses the exercises so they can see improvement. No, this is not your regular trainer down the street who puts your kid through a back and bicep day or a triceps and chest day. This is a strength coach who uses different methods to work on improving the holistic athlete so they can translate what they do in the gym into their sport. Not only is it a coach’s job is to help their athlete improve their strength but also guide them in healthy lifestyle changes such as sleep, nutrition advice, mindset and education of the body. A good strength coach connects with the sports coach to complement the long-term sports plan.
So what would the process look like for my child if I were to get them into strength training?
Remove Your Limitations
Injuries are becoming more common in youth athletes as they begin sport’s specialization is becoming a more common occurrence. Due to this decision, early adaptation to sports begins to occur due to the amount of time spent on their sport. Unfortunately, the repetitive sequence of movement that occurs at a young age begins to cause imbalances in child’s anatomy which increases the risk of chronic and acute injury. In order to combat this, a strength coach must look at an athlete’s sport to find what muscles and joints get overused or underused to create a program to balance them out so they are working optimally.
Making sure your athlete is healthy and able to withstand the grueling schedule of a long sports season should be the top priority over improving performance.
Improve Your Weaknesses
As stated before, strength training when properly programmed adds to one’s athletic performance. This is more anecdotal but there is a saying of “practice makes perfect.” Well not quite, because a child can show up to a practice or workout and go through the motions and not gain any benefit because they have created poor habits. Part of this stems from the fact that a child might not be strong or confident enough to perform certain drills or understand the overall importance. Sports coaches push the athletes, but sometimes they have massive teams or groups making individualization difficult, even for the best coaches. This lack of individualization will sometimes push a progression and some kids will be left behind and not see improvement. A good strength coach will always put well-executed exercises at the top of their priority. In order to help an athlete, they must reverse some of the damage from the demands of sports training. Because of some poor habits, a trainer needs to make that evaluation and make that a priority in their program.
maximize Your performance
After we remove the muscular imbalances, improve weaknesses, we can focus on maximizing performance. Oftentimes, improving the first two phases, will increase performance, but in this phase we focus on maximizing performance. If the first two phases fix the car, now we can work on changing your body into a racecar. Every athlete has something they are good at. Just because they are strong in certain areas does not mean that they should be looked over. It is important for a strength coach to sharpen an athlete’s fundamentals so they continuously build better work capacity for their future athletic endeavors. Once weaknesses are addressed, it is time to add more fuel to the fire and begin performing more challenging exercises. It is time to further progress by strengthening the structure that has been built and is what will create a well-rounded athlete. A strength and conditioning coach’s priority here is to build upon the structure that an athlete has already built so they can continue to use this strength in their performance. An athlete should begin to feel stronger and see improvements in their performance once their weaknesses begin to clear up.
The job of a strength coach is to optimize an athlete’s performance through the creation of a well-designed program for short term and long term success. If an athlete decides to have their own strength and conditioning coach, their results should improve and find themselves progressing in their sport. If you are interested in finding a strength and conditioning coach for you or your child, come into COR for an assessment. We will get you moving better in no time.
Looking to maximize your child’s performance and health. Since you made it this far, apply for a free screening today (in person or remote).
Justin was born and raised in the Bay Area where he attended Sacred Heart Prep. He went on to attend the University of Puget Sound where he received a B.S. in Exercise Science. Justin has certifications for the NSCA-CSCS, MBSC-CFSC Level 1, and USA Weightlifting Level 1.
Growing up, Justin was a swimmer. He swam for PASA-Rinconada, King Aquatic Club and for Puget Sound.
Through his passion for swimming, Justin fell in love with strength and conditioning and wanted to help other athletes achieve their goals. Previously, he interned at the Riekes Center, Pacific TherX Physical Therapy and COR. Justin is a personal trainer at COR.
During his spare time, you can catch him looking up new recipes or going on a foodie adventure. He still stays active through masters swimming and strength training. He is a huge Golden State Warriors fan but also enjoys watching other sports like golf and Olympic Weightlifting.