The question “should young kids lift weights?” has been discussed for many years and I came across this great article written by the International Tennis Performance Association (ITPA) which looks at the science behind the question. The ITPA is headed by former Aussie Mark Kovacs who grew up playing junior tournaments here in Melbourne like many of you. After his schooling was complete in Melbourne he took a position in a US College Tennis program and combined his tennis with his studies. Dr. Kovacs is now a renowned performance physiologist, researcher, university professor, author, speaker and coach with an extensive background training and researching athletes at all levels.
Enjoy the article.
Kane Dewhurst
Vida Tennis

Should Young Kids Lift Weights: What Does the Science Tell Us?

For the last few decades, the discussion around whether young kids should lift weights or perform resistance training has progressed substantially. It is important to review the science around resistance training in young individuals and make decisions about training based on the best available science. Basing decisions on how to train young athletes without understanding the underlying science is not recommended and something that can put young athletes at greater risk of injury and/or slow the development and progress. Recently an international group of experts in youth resistance training were asked to review the large body of scientific literature and develop an International Consensus on “Youth Resistance Training.” Three individuals on the iTPA Certification Commission were heavily involved in the consensus document, and is something that should be read by all coaches, trainers, performance specialists, physical therapists, medical doctors, chiropractors, parents and sports administrators.

The summary of the document concludes with this statement: “A compelling body of scientific evidence supports participation in appropriately designed youth resistance training programmes that are supervised and instructed by qualified professionals.”

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Here are a few take-home messages from the “Position statement on youth resistance training: the 2014 International Consensus” which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine this year.

1. “The use of resistance training by children and adolescents is supported on the proviso that qualified professionals design and supervise training programmes that are consistent with the needs, goals and abilities of younger populations.”

2. “Parents, teachers, coaches and healthcare providers should recognize the potential health and fitness-related benefits of resistance exercise for all children and adolescents. Youth who do not participate in activities that enhance muscle strength and motor skills early in life may be at increased risk for negative health outcomes later in life.”

3. “Appropriately designed resistance training programmes may reduce sports-related injuries, and should be viewed as an essential component of preparatory training programmes for aspiring young athletes.”

4. “Regular participation in a variety of physical activities that include resistance training during childhood and adolescence can support and encourage participation in physical activity as an ongoing lifestyle choice later in life.”

5. “Resistance training prescription should be based according to training age, motor skill competency, technical proficiency and existing strength levels. Qualified professionals should also consider the biological age and psychosocial maturity level of the child or adolescent.

6. The focus of youth resistance training should be on developing the technical skill and competency to perform a variety of resistance training exercises at the appropriate intensity and volume, while providing youth with an opportunity to participate in programmes that are safe, effective and enjoyable.”

Read the position stand for more detail:

  • The use of resistance in youth is recommended
  • The need exists for appropriately designed programs
  • Programs need to be appropriate for training age, motor skill competency, technical proficiency and current strength levels.

Read the full International Consensus below:

Position statement on youth Resistance Training the 2014 International Consensus

Please follow the iTPA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/itpatennis), the twitter feed (@itpatennis) and the iTPA website for more information on this topic and other updates related to tennis-specific performance enhancement and injury prevention www.itpa-tennis.org