How old is old enough for my kid to start training?

This is a question I get a lot.  By this point, I usually have a stock answer that I give parents, but since this is a blog post, my response might start with “what type of training are you talking?”

If you are talking a periodized, mass building, strength program then no probably not.  Especially if your kid is 9, 10, or 11.  12, 13.

If you are talking training to be a better athlete and make sure all the muscles are firing properly, then that could be a “yes.”  Obviously, I will explain.

Parents say they don’t want to go to that next level and have their kids “also” train.  That might be a bit over the top.  Yet, they are signing their 8, 9, or 10 year olds up on teams that train year round.  They play a ton of games that include weekend tournaments where they might play 3-6 games in a weekend.

Your typical kid playing these clubs sports usually plays in the “traditional” season of the sport.  If these sports aren’t a winter sport, then you do “winter” training.  And now they typically will play in the “non-traditional” season for this sport as well.  In the spring, it is volleyball and soccer.  In the fall, you have fall ball for softball and baseball.

That isn’t “over doing it?”

No that is supposed to be fun and the kids really want to play in those games.  So, let’s continue to support this.

Here is where I say, if you are electing to allow your kid to play for these teams that are essentially having young kids play for about 8 months, why are you raising eyebrows when it is suggested to do training?

Reasons why you should start training for your young athlete:

  • The amount of recess time for kids has been decreasing and they aren’t developing their overall athleticism the way they used to. Training helps to try to counter that.  In fact, there are some training facilities that will have sessions aimed for young kids that are designed for doing this in a fun way.  Basically, they play games that develop their athleticism and skills in a way that they don’t realize because a game is involved.
  • These kids are at an age where their body develops by doing as many athletic moves as possible. The more movement patterns your body can do, the more it absorbs those patterns and can become a well-rounded unit.  If their bodies are continually doing one sport and its movement patterns for the majority of the year, the body is missing out on other movement patterns in other sports that provide variety.  Thus, they can’t grow as an athlete even though the skill of the sport is being developed.  E. they might be able to hit a tennis shot down the line, but will they be able to be quick enough to get to a drop shot and have the proper touch to get it back in play.
  • Because they are doing the same movement patterns day after day, week after week, their bodies develop imbalances. The best way to avoid these imbalances which will lead to injuries is to continue to develop their overall athleticism.  Doing training could be the best option for an athlete playing year round.  Basically, training is injury prevention for these young athletes playing the same sport year round.
  • If your athlete had a hitch in his/her shot, would you wait until a certain age to change it? If they weren’t swinging the racket properly, do you wait until puberty hits to correct it?  No!  If your athlete has mechanical flaws in movement patterns and already starting to develop strength and flexibility imbalances, then you need to get it changed pronto.

Don’t fool yourself to thinking that just because your athlete is young, he/she can handle that amount of games and time spent on one sport.  They can’t.  In order to counter that and help their playing experience, you will probably need to look into training for that athlete.

Or you can roll the dice and hope they don’t burn out and/or don’t get injuries later on in their athletic career.