Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Why Strength and Conditioning Is Beneficial
A strength and conditioning program can be very beneficial to a youth athlete, obvious enough on the surface but how does that play out specifically? The most important benefit from strength and conditioning is increased injury prevention. The last thing any athlete would want is to sustain an injury where peak performance is hindered. Competing in college soccer, I saw the physical demands and level of performance it requires to sustain a career in athletics. As soccer continues to grow in popularity, the demand for strength and conditioning grows greater as athletes are looking for a more well rounded approach to the game. My goal is to share the knowledge that I have gained from playing soccer, studying kinesiology, and my own experience working with a strength coach in college with the next generation of young athletes.
It really can't be overstated, the most important benefit of strength and conditioning is durability and injury prevention. This impact of how often you can train, ultimately determines your ability to sustain peak performance as an athlete. Components of strength and conditioning that transfer straight into injury prevention can be seen in every sport and physically demanding scenarios, so developing proper movement patterns is a significant factor in injury prevention and durability. We have the athletes repeatedly practice proper movement habits along the joints to help stabilize the surrounding muscles, so the joints are strong and durable during activity. Additionally, practicing movements repetitiously engrains healthy movement patterns through neuromuscular motor development. We engrain these specific motor patterns into our brain, so the athletes default to their training when it comes time to perform in competition and sport. Developing our neurological pathways and creating new pathways can have lifelong health benefits beyond performance. A program containing the right characteristics decreases the time it takes to recover from an injury as well. All of these factors strike at increasing an athlete's durability.
Other Beneficial Factors:
Speed - is the rate at which a person is able to move. You increase speed by training movement patterns, improving body mechanics, and developing strength. This results in the rate and level of force at which muscles can be contracted. Athletes will also practice proper running gate.
Agility - is the ability to move, think, and understand quickly and easily. Agility is increased through a process called the strength shortening cycle (an active muscle is lengthened, then the muscle immediately shortens/contracts). Athletes develop this through plyometrics, agility ladders, lateral movements, etc.
Strength - is the development of muscle and being physically strong. Athletes will increase motor recruitment of the muscle fibers. You train the motor neurons to signal as many muscle fibers as possible which in turn makes the muscles more efficient. Athletes develop this through resistance training.
Endurance - is the power of enduring a difficult situation or process without giving up. This is an important aspect of an athlete's career because they will be put into many different difficult situations. Athletes develop endurance through interval training, repetition method, competition method (training in a game like scenario), or long distance methods.
Mobility - is the ability to move freely. An increase in mobility will help an athlete move in their respective sport more freely, stabilize joints, increase range of motion, and help correct muscle alignment. Athletes can achieve mobility through various flexibility exercises, resistance training that require high ranges of motion, yoga, as well as static and active stretching.
Balance - is an even distribution of weight to keep someone standing upright. Increasing balance will lead to an increase in power, strength, body mechanics, body control, and durability. Athletes increase balance by training in an unstable environment, increase core strength, train in a single leg platform, and other similar methods.
In conclusion, strength and conditioning programs can be very beneficial in many different aspects. Athletes can reduce their risk of injury along with the time it takes to recover through a professionally written training program. The many exercises, training methods, development of neurological pathways, and practicing proper movement patterns will lift an athlete to level required to meet their performance needs and demands. If you want to take your performance to the next level message me directly.