Train to Train-Phase 4
Ages: 12-16 Male/11-15 Female
Focus training on the overall athlete based on their physical, mental, emotional and cognitive ability. Typically, during this developmental age range, young players begin to play sports for competitive organizations. It is important that the training process maintain a “player centered” approach. This phase coincides with the growth spurt, which enters the window of trainability that focuses on stamina. It is important to maintain flexibility during this phase. Children will often lose this as they begin to focus more on sport specific activities. During the Train to Train period, many children will make the decision to pursue competitive athletics or move into the active for life phase. Active for life should focus on healthy lifestyles in the recreational realm of athletics.
Those that continue the pursuit of competitive athletics should begin mental training, more advanced technical instruction, and tactical instruction. I would strongly discourage the desire to specialize in one sport prior to the age of 15 years old due to the benefit from other sports. It is encouraged that parents be active participants in their child’s athletic life due to the injury risk that is prevalent at this age.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when an athlete “pulls” a muscle?
The most common response is that the athlete should’ve stretched more or that they need more flexibility to prevent that injury. Multiple studies have shown this to be an incorrect assumption. There is actually a direct correlation between aerobic fitness and injury prevention. Aerobic fitness levels can actually aid in recovery as well. This is why baseball pitchers engage in some form of conditioning on the days that they are not throwing.
So the answer may be evident but let us pose the question of which is better: static stretching or dynamic stretching?
Both, but only with an aerobic component and activities that emphasize strengthening, jumping, or other similar activities. A proper warm-up should include, but not be limited to, some form of running activity laced with a dynamic stretching program and a short static stretch.
Whatever it is that you as a coach, parent, sports medicine professional, or athlete choose to do for a pre game routine, make sure it has scientific validation. Don’t just do something because that is the way it has always been done.
Learn to Train-Phase 3
Ages: 9-12 Boys/8-11 Girls
The main goal here is to continue to develop general fundamental movements and general sports skills. This stage coincides with peak motor development; therefore, the focus should be on skill development. If an athlete misses this phase, the potential to reach their full potential may be inhibited. Aspects that should be of focus are: skill sequences (ie hitting, throwing, kicking), basic position requirements, and encouragement to perform tasks with their non-dominate side.