Developmental Windows of Training for Young Athletes
There’s a lot of debate in the training world on when young athletes should start training programs. As our athletes reach the pre-pubescent years there is something called the developmental window, which starts around age 10 but can vary depending on physical and mental maturity, in which a certain type of training program is extremely beneficial for the athlete. Much like teaching a child to walk, read, or ride a bike, there is a method in which you teach the proper techniques and movements so that they are successful later on with those tasks. Training is much like that, in the sense that you want your athlete’s movement patterns to be engrained the correct way from the start. So by having our younger athlete’s develop strong, stable moves early on in their training years and understanding why they are doing each exercise, they have a strong, stable base to build off of once they are old enough to start the big lifts and the compound movements.
As the younger athletes start coming into us, it is our duty to explain to them that while they may be a specifically a tennis player, or specifically a baseball player, that their training needs to be comprehensive rather than sport specific. At such a young age for the athlete it is paramount that the athlete, as well as the parents, understand that sport specific training may lead to overuse injury as the athlete is continuously repeating the same motion over and over again while ignoring other moves that may aid in strengthening the sport specific move. Training athletes of any age, especially the younger athletes in the developmental window, should be a 100% complete training program and should teach the athlete the importance of each individual move and how they work synergistically to improve their game. As the athlete matures chronologically and training-wise and shows a complete understanding of the reasons, techniques, and importance of each move then we can start teaching sport specific movements and focuses on certain areas of their game.
The developmental window for young athletes is one of the most crucial times during their playing careers. Having the athlete understand and perfect exercises will help them immensely in the future as they will have a strong base to build off of as they mature.