The benefit of lifting to gain strength, speed, and power is tenfold if you’ve never performed any resistance training before. This fact couldn’t apply more so than with youth athletes who are still growing into their bodies, and the vast majority have never seen or been inside an official weight-room.
With this information in mind, the harsh reality is that even young athletes are going to be very limited in their quests to build more size, strength, and athleticism. Most notably size. Reason being that a youth athlete’s body will not be neurologically or hormonally primed yet to allow the necessary workloads to be achieved which result in considerable muscle gain and size, unfortunately. As a result, you typically will not see rapid increases in weight on the bar, or whatever training item you are using with your youth athletes. So, the question then becomes, how do you drive up more neuromuscular activity, so that they can fulfill their goals of becoming better athletes? One effective solution that I know many will disagree with is “high frequency” plyometrics! Here are examples of some of the drills that fall into this training category, followed by a description of this style of training:
#2-Ankling-Stutter Step Patterns
#3-Low hurdle hops
I’m sure most will be familiar with the methods above, but you may not fully appreciate the high value each has on a kids neuromuscular system and performance. To fully understand frequency training lets first breakdown how the brain and nervous system utilize the muscles to generate enough effort to get us to our intended destination in movement:
TYPES OF MUSCLE RECRUITMENT:
#1-Temporal Activation= The activation of a motor unit at a higher rate to create movement.
#2-Spatial Activation=Activation of more motor units to create movement.
Unfortunately, kids don’t seem to be able to activate as many motor units as their older counterparts could. As such, they will have to identify an alternative route to generate as much strength and power as their bodies will allow at their age.
Frequency training removes the risk of overloading their premature body structures while still ramping up the use of the available muscle mass with each effort. Combine this approach with some explosive strength training, low load-high volume lifting, and other beneficial plyometric variations, and there is no reason kids can’t dramatically improve their athleticism on the field or court!