Strength and Conditioning (S&C) is a term that has increased in popularity over the last 5-10 years within both athletic and general population training. It is also now increasingly used, and recognised, as an essential part of youth athletic development. Many of you reading this may already have children participating in S&C.
But what is S&C? What does it mean and how can it help? We’ve broken it down into 3 key areas.
Reduce Risk of Injury
The main aim of any S&C programme is to reduce the likelihood of injury. Think of your child’s athletic journey like building a house. All of their sporting skills are the furnishings that go inside the house. The structure of the house and its foundations represent your child’s key physical abilities that they need to perform well (e.g. strength, power, speed, flexibility etc.). So, we need to make sure that a child has a solid and robust structure to support what they need to be great at their sport. After all, we can’t build a house on sand.
At Move4Sport we look at each individual child, watch and assess how they move and use tailor their training to improve their ability to create more efficient movement patterns with adequate strength and mobility. This dramatically improves their ability to tolerate the demands of their sport and reduces their likelihood of injuries.
Improve Movement Skills
This is an essential part of S&C for any athlete but especially youth athletes. We describe this as creating the athlete’s toolbox. Both during life and in sport we ask the body to do many different things, tolerate a variety of different shapes, at different speeds, requiring different amounts of strength, flexibility, power etc. So, it’s essential that an athlete should develop a wide variety of different movement skills in order to be able to solve the specific challenges created by sport. You may also hear their referred to as general athleticism but whatever you call it, what we are doing is giving kids the skills required to solve physical problems and turn their hand to any sport they choose.
We see this ability in many of the world’s highest performing athletes. To name just a few, the likes of Roger Federer, Ian Botham, Michael Jordan and Usain Bolt all played or have gone on to play multiple sports during and after their professional career.
Improve Sports Performance
This aspect of S&C will often be viewed as the most important but going back to the house analogy, we need the first two to create the third.
At M4S we firstly analyse the demands of the athletes’ chosen sport(s), test the athlete’s physical ability based of key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as discuss both with coach and athlete their weaknesses and strengths. This allows us to tailor their individual programme to work on their key physical qualities needed to improve their performance.
For example, a swimmer who is poor in their dive may use S&C to help develop better ankle stability, hip mobility and strength to be more explosive off the block. Ultimately, S&C is a support mechanism to help the athlete improve at their chosen sport(s).
It is essential for all youth athletes to prepare their bodies to make sure their body is robust enough to deal with what they are demanding of it. This is especially key as they grow and their bodies mature and change. For more on how S&C specially changes during growth and maturation, keep your eyes peeled for our next blog!