soccer
           FIT FOR JUNIORS

Junior athletics have become so competitive and in some cases so dangerous because of the scholarship stakes and the win at all cost mentality that some coaches tend to have.  Many of the junior high and high school programs are making an attempt at general conditioning of most of their athletes and for that they should be applauded. The problem is that most of the training is not individual and most of the training is not sport specific.  Most of the training programs are created for the football team and then get packaged for baseball, basketball, golf, swimming and any other sport at the school. Some schools do a great job at specifically training athletes for their sport, but this is very rare and most of these schools are private with many more resources.  The reality is that one size does not fit all. Athletes are very individual and the sport they play is very specific.

 

In an era where college athletic scholarships are at a premium it is critical that junior athletes train wisely and safely.  When working with a junior athlete it is critical to understand how bone development and growth plates are impacted by your game and by your training.  For example a recent study indicated that 90% of bone density is achieved in both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 20. In girls the highest point of accumulation was between 12 and 13 years old.  In boys the highest levels of accumulation was between 15 and 16 years old. It is important to create a program that makes sense for the junior athlete’s age and sport.

 

Examples of exercise focus 8 – 14 years old:

  • Balance / Stability

  • Core Strength

  • Joint Integrity work

  • Bone density training

  • Body weight training

  • Speed / Agility training

Examples of exercise focus 15 - 18 years old:

  • Balance / Stability

  • Core Strength

  • Joint Integrity work

  • Bone density training

  • Weight training (hypertrophy and limit strength)

  • Speed / Agility training

  • Speed Strength

  • Plyometrics

 

Juniors are such a fun group to work with because they are learning so much about themselves, their fitness, nutrition, performance and hopefully how to be the best person that they can be.  Not every junior is going to be a world class athlete, but many of the life lessons that they learn on the journey will be invaluable to them the rest of their lives. For me the opportunity to be a part of the journey of a junior athlete is so rewarding.  Watching them grow in character, confidence and determination makes me realize what a privilege it is to work with them and help them to improve and learn.