I once had a conversation with a parent about training our own children. He wanted to know how old my boys were. I replied 10 & 11. “Ah, the best age to train.” He responded.
Reflecting on this, I recalled why coaches mentioned to me on numerous occasions that my boys were able to respond to workouts without the hassle of going through the basics. Perhaps just one or two bad habits to correct but generally it was a breeze. True, given that my boys are in the intermediary, but by and large, boys at this age are very responsive, inquisitive and an abundance of energy.
I can say training pre-puberty kids (under 12) is a satisfying experience because the results are visible. Next year, Ryan will begin to undergo a physical metamorphosis. I am looking forward to his growth spurt so as he attains his speed and power naturally. Or will he, like his father, a slow starter in life? But jokes aside, I have seen boys at this age grew a few inches taller just over a few months. Now with an Adam’s apple, they greet me with a croaked voice.
When I observed the Elite 1 boys training in the Persatuan, there was a marked difference between boys of 12 and boys of 13 in terms of strength level. That for you is the power of the testosterone at work which I’m sure apart from their ability to perform leaping smashes, they will have a lot more to grapple with, such as body hair, raging hormones, facial acne and wet dreams. Don’t start me with the girls now.
Interestingly, now through sports science, research has shown that strength can be attained independent of age. This article in the net suggests that with correct dosage, children can increase their strength in training solely from neuromuscular (nerve-muscle conductivity) improvements. Here’s an abstract of the article…
“Many coaches and parents believe that strength training is bad for children and even potentially dangerous. For instance, a myth exists that heavy weight-lifting too young will stunt growth. There is little research to suggest that weight training for young children is unsafe - in fact, most of it confirms that weight training is one of the safest exercises they can do. Weltman et al (1986) specifically studied the effects of heavy strength training on young boys. Strength training in young children will thicken the bones by promoting increased bone mineral density, and do nothing to hinder growth in length. Weight training with heavy loads is very safe if technique is correct and posture and stability are maintained. Poorly performed weight exercises are just as dangerous for adults as for children.”
How’s that for sports science? Maybe I will introduce this gradually but I can do with the racquet handle with a mild concrete weight at the head for now.
I have just started introducing plyometric exercises (box jumps, lateral jumps, power skipping etc.) which will be injected into their training diet. So now a typical training session will start with stretching, dynamic warm-ups, plyometrics, shadow, specific shuttle feeds, corrective strokes and finish with strategy sparring.
We are still patiently waiting for their time to come but as long as their will remains strong, my wife and I will continue to support them. Perhaps my wife may have been more expressive, I may not have put it in words to them, but despite all the shortfalls, we love them all the same.
Happy New Year!