Don’t Forget to Train

I know the title of this article may seem elementary, however, with the ever growing popularity of early specialization in youth sports, athletes as young as 8 or 9 are being pushed into year round competition – meaning, there is no off-season.  And when there is no off-season, there is no strength and conditioning.

As a strength coach, I have seen a rapidly growing number of young kids suffer from overuse injuries. Over the last 6 months, I have dedicated a good portion of my continuing education on this new phenomenon, little league elbow, taking hold of youth sports, especially in the realm of baseball and softball.  I have a 12 year old athlete, 11 is the absolute youngest we train at Pro Sports Performance (PSP), who played over 100 baseball games last year alone. Then, we spent a good portion of the winter months looking for answers as to why his shoulder and elbow keep causing him pain and discomfort. (Insert sarcasm here.)

Instead of having your child throw 1,000 curveballs in the off-season – he’s 12, not Justin Verlander – how about teaching him how to do a chin-up, or a squat, or a swing… Look, I get it – I understand hitting lessons are important to learn how to hit.  Skating is important if you’re going to play hockey.  And pitching practice is important to pitchers, but at what cost?

Let me ask a more generalized question, do you want your child to develop athleticism?

Here is the secret – he/she has to train.

They have to lift weights. And once their movement patterns are mastered, they have to lift heavy weights.

Do you want to know the best and fastest way to a strong injury resistant shoulder?  Learn how to do chin-ups, then learn how to do chin-ups with additional weight.  Learn how to do inverted rows, then with additional weight. Planks and side planks. Pick up heavy stuff with your arms and carry it to the other side of the room and back. Do it over and over and over, then carry heavier weight. Bands aren’t going to do much without the weight training foundation.

This is the time of year when athletes and their parents should be chomping at the bit to get their kids in the weight room.  Instead, they’re afraid they may be sore for next weekend’s showcase camp.

The great Michael Boyle wrote, “The path to college sports is through the weight room.” So before you fork over your next $500 for that weekend camp, read that quote a few more times. Then before you try to beat the system with that $19.99 gym membership, remember this last adage; “A person who attempts to teach themselves has a fool for a pupil.”


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