Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Training Tips for Youth
After just finishing up our COMP4SS Athlete Program for a few weeks over Christmas, we wanted to share our experience so far and how we trained a group of 13 teens who for some, had never stepped in to a gym before.
We will also share the guideline as to how we structured their training from block to block.
The first thing we did before we started training the kids was to set a clear goal, which we would encourage anyone thinking about training youth to consider:
- What is the intent of the program?
- What are all parties wanting to get out of it?
- What is the end goal?
Working with three other passionate men it made the experience really good, we are big on teams and creating a positive environment and culture.
For us coaches, we wanted to let the teens grow with a knowledge and understanding of strength and conditioning. Also, to see how they grow as individuals in today’s society and how they deal with training for their chosen sport.
There was nothing like this when we were young, this is a big reason why we wanted to start the program and there was definitely nothing like this in Perth that we knew of.
For the teens they wanted to get stronger and better for there chosen sport on the field i.e Rugby, Rugby League and Netball.
Knowing we had a year we split it up in to 12 week blocks or meso cycles.
Each cycle had a different focus so that when we got to the end of the year, they could squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, run and perform all other power movements to help them on the field. i.e box jumps, broad jumps, vertical jump, medicine ball throw and medicine ball toss.
The teens also had diarie’s to track their nutrition and to make sure they were eating enough to train and play.
With this diary we didn’t focus too much on tracking calories or macro nutrients, we were more making sure they knew how much; food, water, sleep and rest they needed as these factors could effect their output in training and on the field.
We kept tracking and testing their performance markers at the end of each meso cycle, to measure whether they were improving and then reassessing the programming every time to tweak things where required.
We don’t believe that you can have a proper structured plan, as everything changes day to day, therefore we had to adapt things accordingly. Some days we ramped things up, some days we brought it back.
It all came down to the feedback of the kids and how they were moving and their playing schedule.
Because they were still in season we didn’t focus too much on peaking their nervous system as some had to play sports Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
12 Week Meso Cycles:
Weeks 1 - 12
We trained mechanics and bodyweight two days a week. The third day was dedicated to skill work with the other coaches.
The first 8 weeks we focused on bodyweight, going through proper warmups, control, movement and through full range of motion.
The last 4 weeks we started introducing dumbbells while performing the movements.
This is probably the only cycle we would of changed if we ever did it again. The main reason being that we didn’t need to go that long without introducing dumbbells and barbells. We would of introduced resistance a lot quicker dependant on the individual, however as this was our first teen program we were being a little too cautious.
We would have halved the time spent on bodyweight alone as the teens responded well to this from the get go.
Weeks 12 - 24
We started introducing Barbells.
The first day of the week we focused on lower body, speed/power and squats with time under the bar and control, technique was everything and always should be.
The second day of the week we focussed on upper body performing overhead press, floor press and accessories. We stayed in the 8 - 12 rep range and focused on building a strong base.
Weeks 24 - 36
We started ramping up the volume and continued to build a strong base as we felt comfortable with their form and control. We still needed to remind them of the cues.
This cycle we really noticed there strength and weaknesses.
For some it was mindset and confidence under the bar, for others it was understanding control and taking there time.
For a lot of them we had to remind them that the process is 3 - 5 years in the making, to take their time as they are only 13 - 16 years old, it will come!
Weeks 36 - 47
By this time they were finishing up their sport seasons for the year, so this cycle we kept the rep numbers low but really honing in on technique.
We planned to finish this cycle with 1RPM testing to see how they all responded to lifting heavy.
We had a good response to this and all got personal bests with some lifting double body weight on the strength movements and adding CM’s on to there box, broad and vertical jumps.
We also must note that during the year we had a few teens leave due to unforeseen circumstances, this was a big learning curve for us all and something new to deal with.
Our squad ended up being halved and our focus changed, this goes back to the start when we mentioned about not being able to plan to a fully structured program for a year, because things can change within an instance.
We had an end goal in mind but things changed cycle to cycle.
We would like to end with a few main points to summarise this experience:
1 - End Goal.
Have a end goal in place and where you want to get to, then work backwards and make sure you have small steps in place to get reach this goal.
2 - Technique is everything and should be main focus.
Good or Bad, once it becomes a habit it becomes very hard to re-train and undo. We cannot stress the importance of good technique enough.
3 - Patience.
Take your time and know when to bring it back. Young or old, with anyone new to training it takes patience to be really successful at anything. It takes 10,000 reps to become good at an exercise.
4 - Communication.
Open communication between coaches, teens parents, teens and everyone else involved. This will eliminate assumptions or over thinking if things go wrong.
5 - Confidence.
Be confident in what you are doing and providing. Never doubt yourself as we can sometimes be our worst critics. Do not worry about what everyone else is doing, you can only learn and adapt.
We hope you enjoyed this read, if anyone has questions please do not hesitate to reach out.