When considering implementing a training program for you child or your youth football team you must take several things into consideration. The over riding factor you need to consider is safety. Not just from a sprain or strain but also from a long term injury that may not show up in the short term. Remember kids are growing and you don't want to cause an injury that would affect you player long term.
That said, it is worthwhile to improve the fitness of your youth football player or players and in fact good fitness and technique actually will prevent injuries from occurring. Quality exercise will also help youth football players to develop strength and lean muscle mass as they grow.
The History of Youth Fitness Training
Throughout history youth have developed and worked their muscles through work and chores. They have been called on to do chores like hauling water, chasing livestock, and to participate in helping the family to meet its basic needs. If you think about it hunting and gathering, planting crops and harvesting are all very physical activities so really youth have been exercising throughout history.
Most of the youth involved in football programs do not have to hunt for meat or gather and carry food and most don't have physically demanding chores to do. Football can be a sport that is trained for year round without putting tremendous pressure on the kids. You can keep the emphasis on general cardiovascular exercise and mix in some speed drills which help with all sports as well as general fitness.
Keys to Youth Football Training
The key to a good youth football fitness program is to have safety, supervision, and proper instruction at all times. Although flag football can start earlier, most contact football programs start at age of 10 as it is a significant age for several reasons.
The games become more competitive, and earning a starting position is more difficult. Staying healthy becomes a top priority as you can't get playing time if you are injured. Players, parents and coaches often will decide it's time to start some sort of a physical training program as the competition gets tougher.
While some 10-year-olds may be playing competitive sports for the first time, many have played before but have not seen as high a level of intensity. To ensure you minimize the risk of injury, players and parents must adapt to proper training techniques.
10 years old is too young to start training daily and it is not time for strength training. Kids are not miniature adults, the muscle structure and rate of development makes their bodies respond differently to exercise.
Consult Your Doctor or Sports Physician
Additionally, prior to starting a fitness program or prior to playing competitive sports make sure you have a Dr, preferably a Sports Physician, give your athlete a good check up prior to beginning strenuous exercise. There could be might be something in the family history like asthma that hasn't shown up yet and the last thing you want is your young athlete feeling out of shape when in reality it is a case of sports induced asthma.
Once you have medical clearance for your football player the next most critical thing is to ensure there is proper supervision of the conditioning and ample water available. Even when the temperature isn't hot out players need to be given plenty of water breaks so that they can hydrate.
Size Matters in Endurance Levels and Dehydration
Younger players are smaller and dehydrate faster than older players and adults. It is critical to remember this when establishing workout plans. Make sure there is a plan and make sure there is adequate supervision which entails an adult who is qualified running the conditioning or the practice. The need to be engaged in the exercise and watching the players intently for signs of fatigue and dehydration.
The types of exercises and duration of conditioning programs varies greatly with the age and physical maturity of your young football player. Make sure that during the physical examination by the medical professional you understand exactly what your player is capable of participating in without harming him or herself. Also, make sure you give this information to the coach or professional running the practice or conditioning exercise.
Types of Exercises for Youth Football Training
There are many different types of exercises that can be done. The ones that are the most successful are short intense quickness and speed increasing drills. These drills can be done at any age and keep the attention of all ages. Additionally you can build in teamwork and competition to the exercises. Shuttle run, short sprints, relay races, agility courses, and others are a fun way to emphasize conditioning without over pressuring your young football players.
You can also have your young football player participate in general fitness training year round which will help to keep them in good shape. Being in good shape will help to prepare their body for the football season. Try not to have your young athlete work out more than 3 times per week in the off season. If they play other sports make sure you take that into account when deciding whether or not to allow them to participate in off season conditioning.
When you get to within 2 months of football season you can start to increase the frequency of the workouts but don't ramp the intensity up too high. You can cause injuries to your player but more importantly you can burn them out on the exercise to the point where they don't want to compete in the sport anymore.
The main thing to consider in Youth Football Training is safety. Make sure whatever conditioning program you choose to follow that it is age appropriate for your young player. Make sure you have a physical prior to starting a program and most of all, make it fun so that your youth football player will want to come back year after year. Handled correctly, Youth Football Training can establish and reinforce quality work habits that will not only improve your player's fitness; it will improve their character as well.
Patrick is the owner of AthletesAcceleration.com , your final resource for developing the fastest athletes. Find great football speed training information and learn to run a faster 40 yard dash at CompleteSpeedTraining.com