Why it’s important to be educated as a coach, trainer or parent who works with youth
By Shannon McDougall
When working with youth in any capacity, safety needs to be the number one concern. Sport has enormous potential for injury not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. When we talk about strength training specifically, the potential for physical injury is greatest if the trainer is not educated.
We not only need to consider physical and psychological injury, but in the case of sport participants we need to consider their long term athletic development as well.
Strength training for a young athlete, needs to be multilateral to ensure that their body is prepared for more advanced activities as the specialization stage of their sport arrives. A coach, trainer, or parent without the appropriate knowledge, may have a young athlete working on sport specific training prematurely, limiting their abilities as they reach senior (18+) age in their sport.
These athletes may also discontinue their sport early or as a junior athlete due to over training and injury,
Where Some Coaches Go Wrong When They’re Training Young People
Many adults who work with youth in an athletic or general fitness environment will use adult systems and activities to design their program. This is as much a mistake as it is to use one that was successful for an elite or professional athlete for all programs.
Someone who is educated will have learned that number one, the activities that can safely be subscribed need to be specific not only to the developmental stage but the experience level and goals of the participant.
An educated trainer or coach, will be familiar with the developmental considerations that need to be a part of programming for youth. Implementing a program for example that over extends the abilities of a young athlete can have lasting effects on the muscles, ligaments and tendons, not to mention their psychological development.
Knowing when an athlete is over training for example, or when they are having difficulty is important to maintaining motivation and ensuring a continued safe adaptation to training.
What To Do If You’re Looking For a Good Coach
If you are a sports coach, you may have sport specific certification through your sport governing body locally or nationally. If you are not certified and informed on working with young athletes, it is advised that you seek someone who is when introducing strength training into your program. There are many ways and from various sources to get certified in all aspects of working with youth and you need to be sure that the provider is credible
If you are a parent of an athlete it is important that you check the education and certification of any coach or trainer who is going to design a strength training program for your youngster. It is also important that you conduct due diligence in verifying the philosophy and history of the coach or trainer with young athletes or students.
One may have received certification but have their own personal philosophy of how training should be done. Make informed decisions about who works with your child. Their future health physically, mentally and emotionally depends on it.
It’s Critical That Youth Specific Needs Are Known and Coached
Other considerations that need to be adhered to are related to standard strength training principles that need to be followed for all participants regardless of age, gender or experience level. Knowing when to train, how to train and at what intensity to train has implications in all sport and fitness programs.
In order to maximize adaptations, it is important to have the knowledge and education that will not only make your task easier but also more productive.
Being knowledgeable about strength training is an advantage whether working with youth or athletes and individuals at any age. It is in the best interest of the participant regardless of age, experience and goals they are pursuing, to have a strength training program that is customized to their developmental needs physiologically and psychologically.
To ignore the importance of education in this field is doing a disservice to the individuals you are working with. Learning how to design a strength training program that fits the needs of the individual can be done online and through local courses in your community. If you do not have the ability, then you at least need to do your research and ask questions where you can to get good information. You owe it to the young participant that you are working with.