Playing football is not only about learning the rules of the game and training as part of a football team. It is also essential for athletes to enhance their physical performance through different strategies such as learning the speed technique, which was discussed in the previous blog. At Kinetic Sports Performance and Football University, we are committed to giving young football players an opportunity to maximize their potential and ultimately become successful athletes.
In this blog, we will discuss why strength training is also important, dispel some misconceptions about it, and explore some of the essentials when starting strength training.
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training can help children and preadolescents improve their muscle strength, endurance, bone density, balance, lipid profiles, fat-free mass, and self-esteem. When it comes to increased muscle strength and endurance, these qualities are essential for football players as they need to run around the football field for extended periods of time while performing actions that require muscular strength. High bone density is important to decrease the risk of sports-related injuries as it is universally known that collisions are inevitable during football games. A healthy weight will help players ensure optimal speed and add to improving their overall endurance.
It is worth noting that one important function of strength training is preventive exercise aka prehabilitation. This training focuses on enhancing the groups of muscles that are overused the most in a particular sport. For example, playing football puts stress on the hamstrings and quadriceps. Therefore, enhancing these muscles with strength training can reduce the risk of injuring them during both practice and games.
Misconceptions about Strength Training
Strength Training Leads to Less Flexibility
If you’re worried that strength training makes athletes less flexible, you don’t need to be! In fact, strength training can actually improve flexibility because it can strengthen the muscles around the joints, which can improve joint stability and range of motion. Additionally, many strength training exercises involve stretching and mobility work, which can help improve flexibility over time. Overall, strength training and flexibility are not mutually exclusive, and with the right approach, it is possible to improve both simultaneously.
Growth Plate Injuries
One of the other common concerns about strength training is that it is believed to lead to growth plate injuries. However, several studies prove that a well-designed strength training program that follows sets, loads, and repetitions appropriate for the young athlete’s age should not overstress the growth plates. As is the case with many other misconceptions, this one has stemmed from a number of poorly documented cases, where the context of injuries wasn’t entirely clear.
Strength Training Is Not Effective in Children
Another misconception is that strength training is not effective in children because they don’t have high enough levels of circulating testosterone to enable muscular development. Dispelling this myth, studies have shown that after 8-12 weeks of a well-designed strength-training program, children’s strength may increase by 30% to 50%.
In one study, boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 12 received strength training twice weekly, which resulted in noticeable improvements in chest press strength (versus age-matched controls). Instead of muscular growth, children get stronger because the coordination of their active motor neurons as well as their firing frequency and pattern significantly improve.
Best Practices for Strength Training
When it comes to strength training, there are a number of best practices to keep in mind to get the most benefits out of the workouts while minimizing the risks of injuries.
First and foremost, it is essential to consult with a professional who has experience with youth strength training. At Kinetic Sports Performance and Football University, we are committed to taking the guesswork out of the equation. Therefore, we use the force plates to analyze each individual athlete’s capabilities and design customized training plans.
Force plates allow us to assess the risk of injury, track and analyze athletic performance over time, determine athlete’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and modify the program to maximize its results
Warm-Ups and Rest Days
Starting strength training with a warm-up that includes dynamic stretching and mobility work to prepare muscles and joints for the exercises ahead is essential to minimize the risks of injuries. Additionally, incorporating rest days into the routine would give muscles time to recover and repair.
When performing strength exercises, it is important to maintain proper form and technique to avoid injury and ensure that you are targeting the intended muscles. Doctor Jared Bonacquisti has created Kinetic to use his vast knowledge of Physical Therapy to enable young football athletes to excel through the use of training with proper technique.
Gradual Increase in the Intensity of Workouts
It is also important to gradually increase the weight and intensity of the workouts over time to continue making progress and avoid plateauing. Anthony Mitchell who helps operate Kinetic Football University and Kinetic Sports Performance is committed to maximizing the athletic performance of his trainees with gradually-increased training that is backed up by science.
Finally, proper nutrition and hydration are key components of a successful strength training program. It is essential to consume a well-balanced diet that contains appropriate amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Drinking enough water is also vital to sustain efficient athletic performance.
Playing football requires more than just learning the rules of the game. It also requires a focus on physical fitness, including strength training. The benefits of strength training for football players are crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention. Despite some misconceptions, such as the belief that strength training leads to less flexibility or that it is not effective for children, research shows that with the right approach, strength training can benefit athletes of all ages. Best practices for strength training include consulting with a professional, warming up, maintaining proper technique, gradually increasing the intensity of workouts, incorporating rest days, and ensuring healthy nutrition and hydration.
At Kinetic Sports Performance and Football University, we are committed to providing young football players with the tools and guidance they need to maximize their potential and achieve success both on and off the field. Contact us to learn more!