Recently we have seen a lot of new clients at UFIT. These clients are young, sometimes they giggle a lot, sometimes they are all business and have very defined goals for their coaching programs. But they all have the same thing in common, they are children. Or more correctly a mixture of pre-pubescent aspiring athletes and also, teenage athletes.
They come to UFIT usually at the suggestion of parents (but not always, a recent example being the 2 young aspiring rugby players wanting to be coached by an ex-England international) and for a variety of reasons. Clearly getting fitter for their game is primary but also shedding some un-wanted kilo’s can have an added bonus of improving self-esteem and confidence.
However wanting to be as informed as possible about training such young people UFIT consulted the position statement published by the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA). Some parents are unsure whether their child should be doing resistance training. There have been many claims over the years of the dangers of such activities for children.
The job of summarising the position statement fell to me (Darren). I read it with a lot of interest because it really is a well written document by people of the highest credentials. In fact 8 people, mostly PhD’s and faculty heads at either American or UK based universities.
The position statement begins by stating that research has proven that children are becoming more sedentary and as a result when they do end up in an athletic activity, get injured more frequently than ever before (I won’t use references but please accept that in the position statement they are frequent and from top quality resources).
It also states that the age of children from the variety of research reviewed for the statement varied from 5 years to 18 years of age. It pointed out that absolute age also cannot be used to determine interventions due to rate of maturation, training age and motor development. Put simply some kids can do things at 10 or 11 that some 15 year olds can’t and so programs need to be personalised based on the evaluation process for that individual. Actually this is really no different for adults. At UFIT we see a massive range of individual abilities amongst a wide age range so our evaluations are very important parts of the process.
Once a baseline of ability is determined an intervention based on outcomes can be created.
The position statement is quite clear on these type of interventions. Even for children as young as 5 it has been determined that prescribing strength training and motor-skill development exercises (agility work for instance) will have profoundly positive (and usually life-long) effects on the individual. Less injuries and less chance of becoming overweight as an adult are the two key positive outcomes but there are many more such as children that start using weight-training early in life often continue using it in adult life.
The statement goes onto say that exercises that combine Olympic-style lifts, the use of resistance bands, medicine balls and bodyweight exercises and blend strength work with movement patterns and functionality create synaptic pathways that remain intact all through life! This is massively wonderful news almost akin to the old adage of once you learn to ride a bike you never lose the ability. It is great news for UFIT as we base nearly all our coaching programs on movement first principles. As a rule all clients adult or children must first prove they can move properly before we ever add resistance to a pattern.
The statement goes onto say that the goal of such interventions is to create strength (not bigger muscles) and improved neural activity (synaptic pathways primarily) so that the child becomes more coordinated and athletic. These are admiral outcomes that I believe all parents would see as benefit to their children’s lives. In fact I would go onto say and concurrent with recommendations in the position statement that enrolling your child in some general strength and conditioning sessions with a UFIT Coach will add untold benefit to your child’s life now and into the future.
Finally it states that coaches must be suitably qualified and we are again fortunate that we have a number of top-class coaches here at UFIT that you can certainly entrust with your child’s care.
Over the years I have been involved with some of the international schools sports programs here in Singapore. I have unfortunately found that in a number of cases children playing sport on a regular basis end up with a lot of significant compensatory movement patterns and muscular imbalances. And sometimes at alarmingly young ages. They can’t squat properly, they can’t jump and their coordination is dreadful.
Once we get hold of them we treat them as athletes first and sports players second, initiating remedial and then S&C work that will, as stated by the position statement, stay with them for life!
If you have any concerns or want to consult to UFIT first prior to bringing in your child for a free introductory session please contact Darren at Darren@oldsite.ufit.com.sgor on 92250868