Are we helping our kids to succeed in their training?

Based on our latest podcast with Nathan Parnham

Adolescent sport has changed dramatically over the years, but is it all for the better? 

There has been a rise in specialised coaches, developmental sessions, academy or institutes programs, as well as the usual school, club, district and state level training. 

The problem? 

Kid’s programs are becoming more intense than that of professional athletes. 

From the age of 12+, the adolescent body is undergoing changes. These changes (skeletal, muscular, hormonal etc.) cause an extra stress on the body. Add these changes to a jam-packed schedule, and you are setting your child up for a plethora of overuse injuries. 

One of Nathan’s specialities is breaking down these programs, to assess what is essential, what is necessary, and what is a nice additive if the child is coping. 

The difficult part of this equation is there is not one size fits all approach, or, number of training sessions that will be ideal for the masses.

One child may cope with 6 session a week, another, may only cope with 4.

So how do you know if the load is appropriate for your child? 

Here are some questions you can use to assess your child’s readiness.

  • Has your child been having overuse injuries? In particular, does one injury settle, only to have another one pop up?
  • How is your child’s mental state? Are they enjoying their training, or have they lost motivation? 
  • How is your child’s energy? Are they tired or fatigued? Can they concentrate in school? 
  • How is their performance? Are they performing well or are their results dropping?

Of course, there are multiple factors that may impact the above questions. However, it is worth sitting down with your child, and all relevant parties, to discuss their ability to cope with the level of training.

It is important to note that aside from injury, burnout is a major concern when children are undergoing high training loads from a young age. This is one of the reasons dropout rates are so high in talented adolescent individuals. 

What type of training will they best benefit from? 

To first understand this, let’s break these down.

Structured play: Coaching, training, premeditated or planned sessions. This means there is an objective for each session. These sessions are great for skill acquisition, learning the sport, learning how to work as a team and the specifics required.  

Unstructured Play: “Off the Cuff” or “backyard” play. These sessions are unplanned, with no objective other than having fun. These sessions include running outside with mates, kicking a football in the backyard, climbing trees etc. They are essential to building strength, kinaesthetic awareness (awareness of surroundings), reactive timing and creativity (which translates into game play).

Unfortunately, in the 21st century, a lot of unstructured play has been substituted for electronic devises. Whilst structured play is on the rise, the benefits of unstructured play are missing, meaning that we are developing a generation of children lacking the creativity, strength, and reactive abilities of those from prior generations. 

Interestingly, one of the positives that have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an increase in unstructured play (due to normal training sessions being suspended). 


So where to from here? 

Chantelle Bailey  – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey, a skilled physiotherapist in Double Bay, Sydney, excels in treating musculoskeletal issues through personalized assessments and evidence-based rehabilitation programs. With expertise in strength coaching for women and a special emphasis on sports-related injuries, Chantelle offers tailored solutions to help individuals achieve their goals. To schedule a consultation, click the link below.

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