How young can an athlete start training for sports performance?

There is not set age to begin SPT due to individualism. It is important no matter what the age that the program properly prepares the young athlete for what they will face with sport. Unfortunately children are asked to perform specific skills by their coach before true foundational movements are developed. This is where SPT can help address this need.

Theoretically, a young athlete needs the ability to have basic locomotor skills before they can be asked to kick or hit a ball. They should be able to lunge, squat, balance, jump, and hop before they can catch, throw, or kick a ball. In essence, the young athlete should be able to control their own body while performing these moves from various starting positions, actions, and at multiple angles/heights. A properly designed sports training program can address these needs and prepare any athlete for a more rewarding experience.

Generally speaking, when a young athlete begins serious competition, the athlete should be incorporating a form of performance training. An easy policy to follow for the majority of young athletes is to keep the sports performance training as much like play as possible. As they mature (usually just before or around puberty), more specific training applications may be employed such as resistance or plyometric training. Most young athletes are already engaged in sports performance training simply by just playing. This variety of play is fundamental to coordination and development for an athlete in any sport. Be aware of the child's technique, volume, and intensity of effort throughout all sports; this is especially true when transitioning from one sport to the next. The athlete's maturity and the demands of the sport will determine how focused the sports performance training should be. Every child is unique and will respond to coaching and training differently.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.