For nearly 30 years, my career consisted of working with high school kids as a teacher and coach. During most of this time, I was in charge of the strength-training program for athletes. The one common I realized about 9th grade athletes coming in was they had little, if any, experience with strength training. Coming into any environment with upperclassmen can be frightening, but the weight room is especially intimidating for young, inexperienced athletes. After retirement, I still had a passion to work with young athletes. The one place I felt I could make a difference was preparing young athletes to get ready for high school sports. The three areas I wanted to concentrate on were speed, agility and strength.
There is a general concern about what age kids should start strength training. My belief is, if done properly, strength training offers many benefits to young athletes. I start my kids off with light resistance and controlled movements. Proper technique and safety are extremely important starting off. Strength training can improve a child’s performance in nearly any sport while building confidence and self-esteem. Even doing explosive movements like box jumping can help kids at an early age learn to use and bend their hops to generate strength and speed.
Another big factor in working with younger kids is they have little concern over how much weight they are lifting. This is generally not the case with older kids. When put in an environment where older athletes can sacrifice technique and form for the sake of doing more weight, injury and lack of positive results can occur.
So, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a 10- or 11-year-old becoming involved in strength training. As long as they are mature enough to understand what they are trying to accomplish, and it’s something they want to do, I believe it will only have a positive impact on their athletic future. To learn more about our youth program at Wilson Park, contact me, Coach McConnell, at 336.407.3143.