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Would love to hear anyone (and everyone's) thoughts or tips on a good strength and conditioning program for younger kids.  I know there are differing schools of thought here, from:

Leave them alone, they'll develop on their own when they get older.

to

Work them out like animals now before their peers leave them in the dust.

Always value the info gained via Checkswing discussions and welcome your opinion or links to good programs.

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Training for the 8-10 year old should be more like organized play.  The main emphasis for this age group in my opinion would center around developing fundamental movements and overall motor skills.  Developmentally, the first window of adaptation to speed occurs at ages 7-9 for boys and 6-8 for girls.  As the child approaches 10-12 years of age, there is another important developmental window for motor coordination.  At this point they are really primed to hone their overall sports skills.  However, a variety of sports should be played at the younger ages to encourage a well-rounded athletic development and allow the child to have fun.

By this thought process, training programs for the young athlete can focus on basic speed/agility type exercises that emphasize general movement patterns that would be applicable to any sporting activity.  Most important...KEEP IT FUN!  Strength training can be performed at this age, but should not be a major emphasis.  Movements can be adjuncts to the overall fundamental movements and be gross movement activities emphasizing body weight and coordination.

 

These are just my thoughts on the subject.  I'm sure there are other opinions.

 

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

Co-Founder

BaseballStrengthCoaching.com 

Good stuff, thanks David.

Dave is exactly right. Focus on agility type training and stay away from any weight other than natural body weight. As the child approaches the 12 - 15 year old age range you will start getting into growth plate issues and weights can be the end of a career until growth plates are through the critical growth stage. Play as many sports as possible without a main focus on any one in particular.

I love the responses. Be a kid, ride a bike, play basketball, soccer, all these things will help create an all around athlete. Stick to body weight exercises and if you want bands for the arm those will be acceptable but not necessary. I started lifting at 15 and from that point never really stopped. But at that point my body could handle it. I wish more kids would play different sport and not focus on one from such an early age. Let's be honest baseball is not the most athletic sport.

Agreed.  I make sure my son plays whatever he wants, whenever he wants to.  If he wanted to quit baseball today for Ballet or Jazz dancing...I'd completely support.

But that said, he's playing select ball (he's 8 playing 10u), and many of these teams have been working it into the ground all year.  I have my opinions on burnout and the injury that can be caused by over doing it to early and such, but surely there's a median point, where the kids are not abandoning all of their other hobbies, but are getting good training so that if they are to play sports, they have a foundation of fitness and athletiscm, not to mention work ethic.

I like all the responses about speed and agility and keeping it fun.  Thanks to you all for the good info.

Ever play slow-pitch softball with kids that age?
Coach pitch, no stealing, wood bats... before you know it, it's a GAME (not practice)

Roland Hernandez, Founder
http://www.rockbats.com/

Perhaps I'm missing the point of this comment? 

Are you referring to the competitive nature of kids on a baseball field? Or is this something to do with a practice/ philosophy?

My kid is 11 and once a week he goes with his team to the high school strength coach for 1 1/2 hours. He does tons of agility drills and some weight training but only with body weight. This has been going on for about 1 1/2 years and it it unbelievable to see the results on the field. They usually always play in tournaments and you can see how our team is still going 100% on the 2nd and sometimes 3rd day of these tourneys. I wish I had a program like this when I was a kid. 

Thanks for this, it's good info.  Care to share any examples of body weight stuff?

Push ups, sit ups, chin ups, pull ups. Jumping up on boxes of varying heights, lunges, squats, one legged drop downs, planks, 

I'm probably going to get heat for this, but here it goes...

Play more than one sport.  Have fun.  Fall in love with competition.  Avoid multiple-session (2-3 times per week) strength and conditioning sessions until he's past puberty and *he's* serious about a sport.  If a local conditioning center (we have them all over the place in SoCal) offers a once-per-week agility session, sign him up as long as it's fun and he sweats.  I've heard of one near a local military base that dresses the kids in fatigues and face paint and treats them like a platoon with a funny drill sergeant, using the bats like machine guns while they run around and do body weight calisthenics and an obstacle course.  There's a waiting list of kids to join.

In my opinion, there's plenty of time to perform strength and conditioning drills after puberty kicks in.  Puberty changes EVERYTHING.  Focus on teaching him good eating habiits - that will do more for him than any strength and conditioning program. 

Eric Cressey, a VERY credible expert in strength and conditioning for pro and college baseball athletes (he allows us to use his stuff at Beyond Athletic Life Lessons) puts on a killer presentation on strength and conditioning by contrasting the strength vs. speed continuum for athletes, and how that changes the approach to training.  What I gleaned from his insights (as well as personal experience and area coaches) is that prior to high school, maybe it's best to focus on a genuine love for sports (not just baseball), while at the same time focusing on quick twitch muscles and the synapses that link the brain response.  That comes largely from multiple sport participation.  

Again, puberty changes everything, and the post-puberty years are when structured training pays off the most.  

Good stuff Ted, this is pretty much in line with my thoughts (though I'm certainly no expert).  The responses are very much in line with what I expected from a responsible baseball players/ parent/ coaches community.

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