210 East Centennial Ave., Muncie, IN 47303

“Is strength training is bad for children?” A common subject we are often asked about, and would like to help clarify confusing information often portrayed in the media.

What Is Youth Sports Performance Training

As parents and coaches, we always want to prioritize the health and safety of the athlete, while allowing them the best opportunities to improve their abilities for sport(s).  But what’s that point where we are risking the child’s health + safety?

Kids will be kids.  They play outside with friends, climb and jump out of trees, furniture, countertops, and the list goes on.  As they age and start riding bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, etc., we allow them to “go have fun and be safe” while playing in activities they enjoy outside of organized sport. 

Organized sport this day in age (youth football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, gymnastics, etc.) are all becoming much more competitive at a younger age. Tackling and impact in football, playing “kid pitch” in baseball, becoming more physical on the court, all increase an athlete’s risk of injury.  Yet we’re still ask the question of “is strength training is bad for a child’s health and growth”, regardless of all of the “normal” things we allow children to do this day?

Under proper guidance from a qualified professional, strength training for a youth athlete is one of THE BEST things we can do as adults and coaches to decrease injury risk on and off the field/court.  If we teach an athlete how to move properly (brace the spine/core, hinge the hips, develop full range of motion in all joints, etc), it goes a long way to not only prevent injury, but also progressing their skill levels as an athlete. 

Teaching youth athletes to move better with a small external load on their body (dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls) will develop their coordination and and strength levels, which is one of the simplest ways to increase a child’s speed and running ability.  Most young kids lack the motor control and relative strength (strength for their body/size) to drive their body forward faster through space.  Developing neurological control and relative strength levels will increase the amount of force put into the ground with every stride, increasing their stride length and drives them forward faster.  

These are the tools and concepts we utilize at The Arsenal Fitness.  We a warm up followed by drills increasing the athlete’s motor and neurological control of their body.  We progress into building better technical aspects speed and agility (linear running, change of direction techniques, and plyometrics to teach them to utilize the hips and decrease shear forces on the knees).  From there, we teach athletes how to sit down and stand up properly (squat), how to brace the core to pick things up off of the ground (deadlift), and proper body weight exercises utilizing the entire body in optimal positions (push-ups, lunges, planks, rows) to develop their resiliency in sport and life in general.  

Teaching an athlete to train in full ranges of motion develops all of the aspects mentioned above, on top of strengthening the tendons and ligaments in a variety of positions, decreasing their risk of injury while competing in their sport.  

So the next time you are worried about if “strength training is bad for kids,” think about what kids are doing these days. Then ask yourself if your child learned to move a little better and control their body more efficiently, are we really damaging or risking a child’s health? OR are we maybe setting them up for the healthiest, athletic future possible??

–Coach Eric