Youth Football Strength and Conditioning Resources For Players, Coaches and Parents
Injury prevention and physical performance
Football is a very physical sport and a big part of the performance is attributed to the level of strength and conditioning that the player reaches for injury prevention and for the physical qualities needed to perform.
Learn athletic FUNdamental skills early in childhood
Before being strong and fit, young players need to start with coordination and athletic fundamental skills. This needs to be trained early in childhood to take advantage of neuroplasticity. It’s like learning a new language. It’s always easier when you’re young.
The problem with youth football training
The problem is that often, the best coaches are not around for young athletes in elementary school and they might develop bad motor patterns by practicing by themselves. Later, these bad habits are difficult to replace by more efficient one when your children are a little older.
Recommended pathway in a chronological order of 7 resources
Here’s a recommended pathway of training resources to use in a chronological order to help young football players to optimize their physical development.
Because they are presented in a chronological order, some of them are also great for older players.
Resource 7 could be used at the same time as resource 1 because it addresses a topic that will become inevitable later. The faster it is implemented, the better.
Resource 1: Prevent ACL injuries And Improve Changes In Direction Efficiency
At a young age, FUNdamentals are learned through games because children learn by playing. In Football, deceleration and acceleration can be though with many games. Here’s a training resource that will teach you (parents or coaches) games and key elements so that children will create good motor pattern right away! This will bring biomechanic efficiency that will help to prevent ACL injuries and to improve changes in direction.
This system is great for young football players! Here’s a short video about neuroplasticity which this system will take care of.
Resource 2: More Advanced Speed and Agility Training For Football
Once your young athletes manage the basics of speed, you can show them more advanced techniques to make sure that they learn even more about how to be the best in acceleration and deceleration. In a chronological order, this speed and agility system is more advanced.
Difference Between Resource 1 and 2
Some people might ask what’s the difference between resource 1 and resource 2 for speed and agility development. The difference is the level of difficulty and the drills are presented for a different stage of athlete/player development. Here are the stages of the Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model.
- FUNdamentals (Learning with games like in resource 1 and introduce resource 7, if possible)
- Learning to train (resource 2 and resource 7, if possible)
- Training to train (resource 2, resource 3, resource 4 and resource 7)
- Training to compete (resource 4, resource 5, resource 6 and resource 7)
- Training to win (resource 4, resource 5, resource 6 and resource 7)
These stages and the resources related to them are priorities of development. All physical qualities should be well developed for stages 4 and 5.
Resource 3: Developing Power and More
Once the football player manages very well acceleration and deceleration, he is ready to develop power. Before lifting weights, he can continue to improve his relative strength, his reactive strength and his proprioception with this adapted plyometric program.
Resource 4: Learn to master Olympic lifting to develop explosive strength
Olympic lifting is great to develop explosive strength also named rate of force development by sports scientists. It trains the player to be more explosive during the triple extension motion of the hips, the knees, and the ankles and to develop a stato-eccentric force at the catch! Here’s a video explaining all the benefits of Olympic weightlifting for sports performance and showing a few football players using them.
The challenge is that Olympic lifting needs to be learned with proper technique. Again, oftentimes, young football players want to mimic older ones and try to do this on their own. This almost always results in bad motor pattern development that is very difficult to get rid of or worst, injuries. Here’s a great resource to learn properly how to use Olympic weightlifting for football.
Resource 5: Core
The term “core” has been overused in the fitness industry. However, the proverb: “you can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe” is still true. Stabilizing joints, especially at torso level, is very important to minimize power leaks through a lack of stability. It is also very important to stay healthy by improving posture, tensegrity and by avoiding many problems such as back pain. Here’s a great way to improve this joint stability prepared by a coach who has trained many NFL players.
Resource 6: Conditioning to be top shape
When it comes to football conditioning, a lot of people use philosophies such as “more is better” or “no pain, no gain”. While this is partly true and very motivational, a more accurate philosophy would be “adequate workload for individual work capacity”. Conditioning can be done very well and very poorly. Here’s a great way to be top shape for football in a simple but very effective system developed by a world-renowned strength coach.
Ressource 7: Sports Nutrition
This resource is extremely important because nutrition will have an enormous impact on your health and this will impact your recovery and thus your work capacity. Learning to eat well is a good habit to take and if a football player can learn it young, he will greatly benefit from it. Here’s a great way to learn how to eat well for sports performance.