Catch them young

Sports conditioning programme is crucial at a young age. As a general guideline, the programme should have a general focus on fitness.

Published : Jul 08, 2018 15:26 IST

Rack pulls
Rack pulls

Rack pulls

The five pillars of training are:

PHYSICAL: Speed, agility, quickness, power, strength, multi-joint range, balance, stability, kinaesthetic awareness, external reaction skills, coordination, acceleration and deceleration, muscle endurance and movement analysis.

TACTICAL: Periodised and skill-based protocols, including recovery efficiency and other components of cross-training.

TECHNICAL: Game- and skill-oriented specialisation with a multidimensional approach through varied tools.

MENTAL: Psychological make-up like visualisation, gap training, trigger points, breathing technique and long- mid- and short-term goals.

NUTRITIONAL: As important as the other training processes, a specialised individual diet regime according to the game, weather conditions, ground conditions, hydration protocols, recovery meals and supplements, if any required.

All the above components are inter-connected for peak performance.

Identifying, understanding and training young athletes

Who will be the next Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Peas, Narain Karthikeyan, P. Gopi Chand, P. T. Usha, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal or P. V. Sindhu? Many parents believe that the right amount of training, diet, coaching and motivation could be the mantra for their child. But it is not an easy path to success. Very few achieve this at the highest level over a period of time.

Base programme design for young athletes

A sports conditioning programme has become more about boosting physical fitness tools for improved athleticism. This is even more crucial at a young age. As a general guideline, the programme should have a general focus on fitness.

Points to focus on

• Improved overall fitness • Increased athleticism pertinent to sport • Build the physical fitness tools for sports participation • Provide adequate upgrades for playing sports and the experience • Provide athletes the physicality to excel in any new sport or skill they may pick up in the process • Understand the growth and development characteristics of female and male athletes • By providing an experience that will act as a link between fitness workout and feeling good about sports participation • Adapt and adopt more about the specific requirements, skills, strategies and tactics in sport • Appropriate assessment tools for gauging the athletes’ individual strengths and weaknesses in movements, full-body strength, power, balance and coordination • Using the assessment results to draw up a periodised plan for the sport and specific skill • Apt training methodologies for developing efficient sport movement skills like SAQ, proactive, reactive, coordination, acceleration and deceleration and then zero in on the drills appropriate for the athletes (age, gender, growth), with room for necessary programme variables • Specific training approaches for developing full body sport strength and power, stability and balance, including sport specificity and manipulation of specific prime movers, stabilisers and neutralisers with suitable exercises • S&C coach and sports coach develop a periodised plan — macrocycle, mesocycles and microcycles that support sport development with an appropriate programme manipulation technique • Stick to your plan, adjusting it within and between workouts with acute program variables.

Glute Ham Raise

The physical aspects for success

Each sport requires a varied combination of the physical and mental skills for success. It is important to match the physical needs with appropriate skills of each sport’s requirements by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete over a period of time on varied aspects of specific fitness. Without proper specialised sports conditioning, physical skills can disintegrate under constraint and fatigue even with the best mental and physical traits.

Because of so many challenges, S&C coach competence is essential for anyone working on conditioning with young clients who are progressing through critical growing years. Any injury or niggle can be a serious setback in terms of growth and maturation, as well as lost games, practices sessions and training time. Remember, young athletes are not youthful adults. They have very distinctive needs, so sports conditioning coaches will have to make better decisions after having a well versed understanding of these needs.


The schedule and design of a year-round youth sports conditioning plan is called periodisation or conditioning in cycles, where different physical components are developed at different densities, intensities, frequencies, durations and loads.

Swings on plyo box

Periodised schedule optimises results, prevents overtraining and structures the routine so that the athlete peaks at right times. The training should be complementary to the demands of practices and the game itself rather than an entity by itself, with an eye to fuelling peak performance in games while simultaneously planning for long term goals.

End point: Catch them young and nurture them for a long-term goal for peak performance, rather than short-term success.

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