Strength and Conditioning for Juniors. P4
In previous posts we have discussed the heightened interest and what appears to be an expanding part of strength and conditioning. We have discussed a fundamental difference between pre and post adolescents and as a result, shifted our thoughts towards co-ordination. The final piece in the puzzle is how and in what way you change your coaching style to suit the needs of this age group.
A primary consideration when working with young people is that attention spans tend to be small, attitudes towards physical training vary and the metabolic development ensures that volume predominates over intensity. To put it bluntly if a young athlete is not continually engaged in what they are doing they will simply lose interest and no matter how much science you know, the future is certainly not bright for that session.
Coaching that creates an engaging environment that grabs the attention of the athletes and gets them excited in your session from the off is therefore going to be a fundamental consideration for success. Engagement, and excitement come from more than understanding the physical development path of the group, it is also reliant on you gaining an appreciation of the emotional and cognitive characteristics of the athletes. These latter points will enable you to choose the language, words and coaching cues that meet the needs of the group. It should also allow you to set games based scenarios including rules that stimulate both a fun environment for the athletes as well as allowing you to gain training outcomes that relate to the squads needs. Remember emotional, cognitive and physical development may not be at the same development point, and as such your coaching input will vary to meet the changing needs of the group.
With all that said, try creating a session plan that includes multiple methods of reinforcing characteristics that you would like to develop (co-ordination bias) so you can regularly change the game/stimulus to maintain engagement. Be creative with your ideas, learning from successful and not so successful approaches. To get things started we will upload some clips of some of our junior athletes which hopefully can act as a jump off point for you to get creative with your squads.