Here are recent (2019) recommended readings as they pertain to some of the factors surrounding the ecological approach to motor learning. Likewise, we’ve developed a basic schematic to help your basic understanding of how psychology has evolved. By no means is this a complete picture.
– what does the research state on strength training and injury?
– what are some fundamental resistance exercises that an adolescent athlete should be introduced to and perform?
– what is a proper way to regress / progress a strength exercise?
Let’s dive in…
In my opinion, the introduction of sports into a youth’s life should coincide with an introduction to strength training. You may be thinking, “my (insert age) child should be lifting weights? Isn’t that dangerous?” It’s actually quite the opposite. Under proper supervision, a strength training program may offer an adolescent athlete a multitude of physical, emotional, and psychological benefits (Faigenbaum, 2009). Overall, it appears that 8-12 weeks of resistance training can improve overall strength by 30-50% in youth athletes (Dehab & McCambridge, 2009).
For the sake of scope, let’s focus our attention on the effects of strength training for reducing injury risk in this population. So what does the research tell us? One of the earliest studies completed on strength training and injury rate was by Hejna (1982). High school athletes were divided into three groups: weight training during the pre-season and in-season, weight training year-round, and a control, non-strength training group. The researchers found that athletes who participated in weight training had an injury rate of 26.2%, while the control group’s injury rate was 72.4%. If an injury were to occur, the control group took approximately 2.4 times longer to rehabilitate from injury compared to their strength training counterparts.
After 8 weeks of resistance and plyometric training, 27 female high school athletes demonstrated improvements in neuromuscular and biomechanical movement qualities that suggest these athletes were at less risk for ACL injury (Lephart, 2005). Specifically, the athletes demonstrated increases in quadriceps strength during dynamometer testing and greater muscular activity in the gluteus medius bilateral vertical jump (Lephart, 2005). Additionally, athletes displayed increased hip and knee flexion during the jump-landing maneuver (Lephart, 2005). In a meta-analysis by Sugimoto (2015), across 14 reviewed studies, strength interventions reduced the risk of ACL injury by 68% in youth female athletes. A larger meta-analysis by Lauersen, Bertelsen, & Andersen (2014) provide additional evidence for strength training to reduce injury risk, as “strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved”. So the question becomes, what specific strength exercises should youth athletes complete? From multiple investigations, it appears that even the addition of bodyweight exercises can have a significant impact on injury risk. Keep in mind that bodyweight exercises are a form of resistance training! Walden (2012) incorporated unilateral/bilateral squats, glute bridges, lunges, planks, and jump-landings, resulting in a 64% reduction in ACL injury. Similar exercises were incorporated into a warm-up for female youth soccer athletes, resulting in a 77% reduction in knee injury rate (Kiani, 2010).
The basis of strength training for adolescent athletes is mastering basic movement patterns that are transferable to a multitude of more complex resistance exercises. We want to ensure that our athletes are not adding strength to dysfunction, which can lead to many future issues. A requisite for every adolescent (and any athlete for that matter) is demonstrating proper form in the following “fundamental” exercises: hip-hinge / Romanian deadlift, body-weight squat, forward/backward lunge, push-up, pull-up/inverted row, and over-head press.
In addition to form, proper exercise progression is a must for younger athletes, as these motor patterns are very much malleable and quickly receptive to adaptation, for better or worse. Here’s an example of a squat exercise progression that I have found quite successful with youth athletes:
2) body-weight squat (may add box behind athlete)
3) squat with a PVC pipe
4) goblet and/or resistance band squat
5) unloaded barbell back/front squat
6) loaded barbell back/front squat
Again, I cannot stress the following enough: do not add strength to dysfunction. If your athlete cannot adequately perform a barbell squat, there is no benefit to adding further load to this movement. Similar progressions can be made for any upper or lower body compound exercise. Sometimes that will include the use of resistance bands or partners (e.g. assisted pull-ups), TRX equipment (single-leg squats, inverted rows), or the training center itself (wall assisted push-ups). To reap the most benefits of strength training program, youth athletes should be participating in a strength program at twice per week at a minimum (Behm, 2008). It is beyond the scope of this post to discuss the physiological adaptations to resistance training, but athletes need to be consistent in their training to obtain build resiliency within the musculoskeletal system. Loading the system in a sensible and progressive manner throughout our young athletes’ sporting careers will provide the opportunity for maximal performance, but more importantly, will keep them on the field.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the literature regarding strength training for adolescent athletes, I highly recommend these position papers:
Behm, D. G., Faigenbaum, A. D., Falk, B., & Klentrou, P. (2008). Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology position paper: resistance training in children and adolescents. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 33(3), 547-561.
Dahab, K. S., & McCambridge, T. M. (2009). Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes?. Sports Health, 1(3), 223-226.
Faigenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. W. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,23(Supplement 5), S60-S79. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31819df407
Hejna, W. F., Rosenberg, A., Buturusis, D. J., & Krieger, A. (1982). The Prevention of Sports Injuries in High School Students Through Strength Training. National Strength Coaches Association Journal,4(1), 28-31. doi:10.1519/0199-610x(1982)0042.3.co;2
Kiani, A. (2010). Prevention of Soccer-Related Knee Injuries in Teenaged Girls. Archives of Internal Medicine,170(1), 43-49. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.289
Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(11), 871-877.
Lephart, S. M., Abt, J. P., Ferris, C. M., Sell, T. C., Nagai, T., Myers, J. B., & Irrgang, J. J. (2005). Neuromuscular and biomechanical characteristic changes in high school athletes: a plyometric versus basic resistance program. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(12), 932-938.
Sugimoto, D., Myer, G. D., Foss, K. D., & Hewett, T. E. (2015). Specific exercise effects of preventive neuromuscular training intervention on anterior cruciate ligament injury risk reduction in young females: Meta-analysis and subgroup analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,49(5), 282-289. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093461
Walden, M., Atroshi, I., Magnusson, H., Wagner, P., & Hagglund, M. (2012). Prevention of acute knee injuries in adolescent female football players: Cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ,May 3(344). doi:10.1136/bmj.e3042
We had a great time chatting away last night on ACL injury, prevention, rehabilitation and more! We had a privilege to talk through the lens of our own disciplines (biomechanics and motor learning). Let us know what you like, dislike, and how we can improve. As always, if you’d like to write for our blog, please reach out to either one of us!
At coaching clinics, the pens whip out when the speaker demonstrates a new drill. Everyone is anxious to write down that drill that will make the big difference.
Countless times, high level coaches are asked, “What drill can we do to fix our …”
Doug Beal and Russ Rose have been asked about what drills they use. In similar answers, both profess to use only a few drills with many variations.
What are the magic drills that make those teams so good?
Big secret; it’s not the drills. There is no magic.
If simply running the drills made you great, everyone could buy Al Scates drill book (like I did once upon a time) and we’d all be awesome, because his teams were awesome. Blindly running Coach Scates’ drills didn’t make a difference for my team. If his drills didn’t work, whose would?
Looking at it another way; two great teams run different drills, and they end up playing each other in the championship. How can different drills work in attaining the same goal?
Certainly athletes make a difference. Some years you have superior athletes and you win. Some years you have great players yet you lose to superior talent. Let’s set talent aside for a bit, despite that having superior players is likely the most important ingredient to winning matches.
If it’s not the drills, what is it?
Probably a mix of a few common principles, applied to everything in the program. A few to start with;
Understanding. The players learn to understand why they are using a skill, running a drill, doing things in a specific way. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Specificity. Hundreds of top coaches say this repeatedly; you need to practice what you want to do. EXACTLY what you want to do. Coaches don’t toss in games; players don’t hit under the net; there are very few perfect passes. When game-time comes, you will have to pass, set, hit, dig and block every odd thing that comes your way. So it must be practiced that way; randomly.
Flexibility. Sometimes, you might win with serving. Sometimes with defense. Maybe with outside hitting. Playing to your strengths (whether your favorite skill or not) is your best strategy. Also flexibility within a drill; one drill with many options is better than 20 drills with no options. They already know the drill, you’ve just tweaked it to work on the thing you need most. Finally, flexibility with a system. You may not have the players to run the system you like; you need to run the system that suits the players.
Continuous learning. Mick Haley chose to speed up USC’s offense. Russ Rose chose to swing block (and then didn’t, and then did again.) He is reportedly an avid reader. John Dunning shuffled his lineup and changed systems after losing a key player. If those guys are still learning, can’t we all?
Most importantly, we need our teammates on the same page. Good teams have a system for siding out, playing in transition, serving, defense, and for being out-of-system. They work together. And they understand what their teammates are going to do in each of those playing systems. When you have common ground and understanding of everyone else’s role, your role makes sense, and you can perform it, or change it to fit what the opponent is throwing at you. Drills might guide teams toward working on a specific skill; the team’s common ground lends to success in any drill.
There are certainly drills that are better than others. Specific and game-like and random are a good start. Great teams can get better in any drill with those ingredients, because they have taken the time to learn the “whys”, and to understand.
Why does this work
How can I know something sooner
Why does this happen after that happened
Why do I need to be here, not there
Carl McGown liked to say, teach them where to look, and teach them how to move. Shortly after, if not woven into those tasks, you have to learn why. If you know why it works, you likely already have the drills you need to succeed.
Random IMPACT is a bi-monthly education column in the Badger Beacon, an award-winning newsletter published by the Badger Region.
BJ LeRoy is a CAP Cadre member, board member and coach from the Badger Region. He also helps administer the Facebook group Volleyball Coaches and Trainers. You can reach BJ at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you all enjoy this one. We’ve got plenty more lined up, stay tuned. Once again, if you’d like to write for our blog, feel free to email either one of us. If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Thanks!
Here’s a list of five accessible articles we thought are a good start, must read, and of course are classics within the Biomechanics and Motor Learning literature. Throughout the year, we’ll continue to share articles grouped within themes that are applicable to all.
When we started the Rebel Movement, we wanted to use it as an avenue to write, share, dialogue, and most importantly, engage the world around us through a different form of media. In fact, we also saw it as a way to make mistakes. The fact is that we all have opinions, ideas, and thoughts, but struggle to find the medium to share such expressions within a post that is barred by character limitations.
This is an open call to anyone interested in writing. Please get in touch! Let’s truly harness the interdisciplinary nature of this art.
Here are some blog posts we have written for other great platforms.