If you’re a parent, coach or trainer of young athletes, please keep reading... I’m concerned. Seriously...
There are so many misconceptions about how to improve the speed and quickness of young athletes.
In fact, most parents, coaches and trainers who are working with young athletes are making some big mistakes. Hopefully this article will clear some things up for you.
Let’s start with the most-pressing issue...
1. Young Athletes Should NEVER Be Trained Like Adults Ok, first things first...
Young athletes are not miniature adults and should never be trained like adults. Yet so many parents, coaches and trainers make the mistake of training young athletes like older, more mature athletes. Worse yet, they try to copy the training program of a professional athlete for young athletes.
Consider that young athletes are going through a transitional period regarding growth and maturity.
If you want your young athletes to get faster for sports you need to focus on training that is age and growth/development appropriate.
Your speed training programs should focus on developing speed and coordination at the same time.
2. Speed Training for Young Athletes Should Be Set Up As a Long-Term Approach
Don’t get caught up in quick solutions for speed training and young athletes. Instead, think about a long-term approach that allows them to be active, healthy, fit, strong and injury-free for life.
One of the worst things coaches and trainers do with young athletes is try to train them on some professional athlete’s 6 week offseason program etc.
Quick solutions aren’t the answer for young athletes. A progressive training approach that will help them get better and better, year after year is best.
They will still make progress in short periods of time, but as the parent, coach or trainer, we need to envision a long-term approach for our young athletes, instead of quick-fixes.
3. Strengthen the Posterior Chain Strength To Increase Speed In Young Athletes It’s really that simple...
If you want to get any athlete faster, you need to concentrate on the muscles of the posterior chain - glutes, hamstrings, calves and low back. This is really important when training young athletes.
I like to describe training the posterior chain in a young athlete as a rear-wheel drive muscle car. The power from that muscle car comes from the rear wheels. That’s what provides the speed off the light. The power coming from the rear wheels is what makes it so powerful when accelerating.
The same thing goes for athletes. Make the rear, or in this case the posterior chain muscles, and you have more speed.
4. Increase “Relative” Strength To Increase Speed
One of the best ways to dramatically increase the speed of young athletes is to increase relative strength. Relative strength refers to your strength compared to body mass.
The more strength you have compared to body mass, the faster you become.
Simply stated, you want to get your young athletes stronger without adding much body weight to improve speed and quickness.
This is where functional strength training becomes valuable for training young athletes. They get stronger in the right places and won’t add any unnecessary body weight. Not
to be confused with barbells and bodybuilding-type training, functional training is geared towards developing athletes.
Young athletes can get stronger. Much of this is due to learning how to use their body. By having your young athletes perform functional strength training exercises along with
appropriate speed training drills, you will increase their relative strength... and be a faster athlete.
5. One Leg Exercises are Essential for Speed Development
Young athletes need to master the basic strength exercises. This will come in time, when it’s appropriate for their growth and development as well as experience.
One of the most important things a young athlete should master are the one-leg exercises.
One leg exercises will help build strength in the lower half while building up the small stabilizing muscles in the hips.
One leg exercises often don’t require anything more than bodyweight for resistance. This keeps the load off of the spine and allows young athletes to increase strength in the lower body with minimal risk of stress on the joints.
6. Train For Speed AND Train For Injury-Prevention
You can be as fast as lightning but if you’re injured you won’t be much good for your team.
A big mistake many parents, coaches and trainers make with young athletes is trying to get get them stronger for speed... yet forgetting about including training techniques for injury prevention.
One simple technique to help reduce non-impact injuries in young athletes is to include lateral movements in their training.
Exercises that require an athlete to move side to side require the use of the Gluteus Medius muscles. This helps build explosive speed and power while reducing groin injuries.
Lateral exercises should be included in all phases of training in young athletes.
7. Functional Strength Training
One of the worst things you can do for long-term success in youth athletes is get them lifting heavy weights in the weight room before they are ready for it. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Youth athletes are in a unique period in their lives in regards to growth and development. Their body’s aren’t meant to endure lots of spinal compression due to heavy barbell lifting.
- Heavy barbell training can be beneficial to a point, when and only when a youth athlete is ready for it in terms of their maturity and relative strength.
This is where functional training comes into play. It’s basically using training methods that make sense. The exercises focus on more than one body part at a time. This helps in developing the essential muscles such as the core and posterior chain area as well as the stabilizers in the hips and scapula areas. The result is faster, stronger athletes who stay on the field more because they don’t get hurt as often.
8. Give Them What They Need If You Want More Speed
Increasing speed and quickness in young athletes requires a systematic, logical approach You have to have a program that covers the essentials:
- Dynamic warmup
- mobility and soft tissue work
- speed training drills
- functional strength training
- drills (to reinforce your objective and lets them have fun) - games
This is the approach we use when training youth athletes to increase speed, quickness and overall athleticism. This approach helps them progress in their speed and strength with a long term approach that will minimize injuries.
9. Make It Fun
You will never succeed in getting youth athletes to increase their speed and athleticism with a boring training program.
Kids want to have fun. This is where you need to be careful about training them like youth athletes or trying to train them like an adult or older athlete.
The best way to have youth athletes learn a skill is to involve that skill in some sort of game. Games are the connection between the coach or teacher and the youth athlete.
Games are also a great way to finish a speed training session. The youth athletes always look forward to the “reward” of a game. Its work and play mixed together and the result is faster, more athletic youth athletes. This is because games (when chosen correctly) will have athletes moving in different planes of motion... just as they will in competition.
10. Fuel Your Athletes Before and After Training Sessions
Here is some good advice. If you’re trying to build faster, quicker youth athletes you should pretend they are a high- perfmanance sports car.
If you had a Ferrari you know that you have a machine with potential to go very very fast. However, if you put really bad gasoline and oil into it, your performance will suffer. Imagine if you put sand into the gas tank instead of gas. How much performance would you get then?
It’s the same thing with young athletes. You need to have proper nutrition to fuel the workouts and recover from them. By doing this, your youth athletes will get faster, quicker and stronger.
The key to building faster, quicker youth athletes is to have a training system and nutrition system that work synergistically so that your youth athletes continue to make progress in performance over time.
I hope these 10 tips have helped you discover how to help your youth athletes become faster and quicker.