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Empowering Youth Athletes: Discovering Fantastic Strength-Based Activities



A crucial trait for any aspiring athlete is to learn how to engage the right muscles. Strength training is essential because it helps them build a foundation and gain superior neuromuscular efficiency.

Before ever thinking about specialized training, every young athlete needs to have a firm foundation they can build upon.

Specifically, young athletes need to work on mastering four movement patterns that will get them stronger, more balanced, and less likely to get injured.

But is Strength Training Even Safe For The Youth?

As a coach or parent, you’ve probably heard that weight training stunts growth in children. This idea first came from Japan back in the 1960s. A team of researchers noted that children who performed manual labor tended to be shorter than their peers.

Over the following decades, scientists proposed that excessive loading could damage growth plates and hinder development. But, that was also said to occur from fractures, which are more common in contact sports.

A study from the National Library of Medicine, titled "How does exercise affect bone development during growth?" in 2006 refutes this and suggests the opposite:

Not only is physical activity not a cause of stunted growth, but it can also allow children to achieve peak bone mineral density and volume as they grow up.

Plus, we also need to consider that correlation does not imply causation. Besides doing hard physical labor, these children could have also been underfed, which is far more detrimental for growth.

Four Strength Activities For Young Athletes

1. The Squat

The squat is one of the most natural and important movement patterns every athlete needs to master. The movement helps strengthen the entire lower body and improve whole-body balance. It also teaches young athletes how to explode from the feet up.

The best part is, you can pick from countless variations to keep the engagement high. For instance, jump squats are fun and help build tons of lower body power.

2. Push

Pushing, such as the classic push-up, is extremely valuable for athletes, especially in sports where upper body strength plays a role. Examples include baseball, basketball, volleyball, and tennis.

Pushing activities strengthen the chest, shoulders, and triceps while also improving core stability and making young athletes more balanced.

3. Pull

Pulling, such as row exercises, is particularly engaging for young athletes, and most find it easy to learn. The best part is, rowing motions strengthen the entire back musculature and help further develop the core. For instance, resistance band rows are non-threatening and an excellent way for youth athletes to get started.

4. Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is by far one of the most challenging movement patterns to teach, but one that plays a huge role in a young athlete’s development.

This hip-dominant pattern requires good body awareness and an ability to maintain a proper spinal position while loading the posterior chain musculature.

Once an athlete masters this movement, they can better emphasize their back, glutes, and hamstrings to produce power on the field. Specifically, the hip hinge translates to superior lateral movement, acceleration, and deceleration.

The most notable movement emphasizing the hip hinge is the deadlift. But, many strength and conditioning coaches begin by teaching bodyweight hip hinge with a stick on the athlete’s back.


This content was created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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