Young players are developing both physically and mentally as we speak. It’s no secret. The development phase ranges from early childhood right through to late adolescence.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’ve always preached that young soccer players are not miniature adults and training methods and drills should not be mirrored from senior levels.
Remember, developing young players have different capabilities and strength and for this reason, kid’s soccer training should not be scaled down versions of senior training programmes.
It might surprise you but the fastest rate of growth and development occurs from 0-2 years. The growth rate then slows until we encounter the adolescent spurt, pimples and all. It’s also noteworthy that the adolescent burst also lasts for approximately 2 years.
Girls usually experience this spurt at the age of 10-12 years and 12-14 years for the boys. Growth rate then diminishes until full height is reached.
The Wonder Years
Muscle development and mass increases steadily until puberty. Puberty, a confusing time for anybody also gives rise to hormonal changes which also affect the body composition in terms of fat.
Chew the Fat
At birth, both boys and girls have around 10-12% body fat. Pre-puberty arrives and both girls and boys still have similar 16-18% body fat. Post puberty, boys have a body fat of 12-14% and girls shoot up to approximately 20% as their body prepares and adopts for motherhood.
Many parents believe that exercise or resistance training at a young age will stunt growth. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Exercise does not stunt or promote growth in terms of height. What it does do is thicken the bones by increasing mineral deposits which is a massive positive for any growing individual.
According to research and scientific literature dating back to the eighties, strength increases with age because of body growth and the development of the neuromuscular system.
However, case studies and trials suggest that resistance training does increase strength in young soccer players.
If coaches or parents place young players on strength training programmes they must ensure that the young players are,
- properly taught by experts
- undertake a well controlled progressive program
- and that joints are not subject to repetitive stress.
As parents of young players we must ensure that every child who takes part in soccer should be able to participate in a fun and safe environment. Let nature takes its course and don’t deny your children their Wonder Years.
“What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, I will try not sing out of key”.
Love your children before any sport.
“May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars.”