For many parents of young athletes, the risks associate with strength training are an important concern. For example, training that increases muscle size or training that is done without using the proper technique can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and cartilage that has not yet turned into bone. These areas in young bodies are called growth plates and can be severely damaged through improper training.
Perhaps surprisingly, however, research shows that benefits of proper strength training for youth outweigh the risks. An estimated 15 to 50 percent of youth sports injuries could be prevented if more emphasis was placed on developing fundamental fitness and strength before sports participation. Other benefits of proper training include increased sports ability and readiness, as well as improvement in strength and overall health. Ideally, kids should begin strength training between the ages of 7 and 12 years old.
But don’t confuse strength training with weightlifting, however. Strength training uses body weight or simple objects like resistance bands or a medicine ball. The most important thing to keep in mind is that strength training should be tailored to the child’s age and ability, and always done under the supervision of a qualified professional.