What’s missing in high school sports right now is adequate supervision and instruction on conditioning. It is not something that is well funded or even thought of in most sport programs to the degree that it needs to be. The young athletes of today are living in a world that is less physically demanding than their parents was when they were young. So the level of deterioration on their physical form can be actually greater then when their parents were the same age. It’s even more important for proper strength and conditioning. If these athletes are looking to go into the college level and perhaps to professional or Olympic status, they’re going to need to have the proper solid foundation of conditioning at an earlier age – before they get to college. They need to have the foundational skills of strength and conditioning before they’re in the bigger leagues.
Pre-pubescent strength training and conditioning has been a controversial topic. A position statement by the NSCA said that for long term athletic development it is essential to get pre-pubescent kids into strength conditioning. Many were concerned about issues such as growth plates and the fact that kids are still growing could mean problems such as injury. The number one cause of injury though is improper supervision and program design. You need professionals who are knowledgeable in this area and can create programs that are safe, effective, and well supervised. You need trainers that are not pushing kids – even adolescent kids – to go for maximum lifts, to see them lift as much as they possibly can. We are teaching them the proper mechanics of lifting; the proper foundations of conditioning – flexibility, endurance, power, and strength – all the elements that they may require in their sport. We’re teaching them and embedding it at an earlier age so that when they get to the point where they can condition harder, they already have the basic skills sets in place.
One of the reasons that it became the rule not to train kids before the age of 13 is that the exercises in the past were primarily a bodybuilding and isolation approach in terms of their mechanics. The strength exercises that we do are not of this nature. They’re about functional movements, rotational movements – the pillars of human movement. Typically when people hear of strength training they often go back to when they were young and think about what they were doing. Today’s strength training protocol is quite different in many ways.