Long-Term Athletic Development for Youth Baseball.
I work with youth athletes of all ages: college, high school, and even younger. When we talk about training for youth athletes, we are talking about long-term athletic development, which is really the main goal.
The older they get the more specified we're going to get with strength and power training and "baseball-specific” stuff.
With that being said, the number-one goal will always be to make sure they have fun and that we help them stay safe and healthy and build a love for the game and for fitness. That will go beyond their competitive playing days.
At each level, we are trying to prepare them physically for their current demands as well as the demands of the next level they will get to and the physical demands of life in general.
My goal with them, as with all my clients, is to make sure that they are physically ready for whatever comes at them. In the end, a general approach will always trump a specific approach at all levels but especially for youth athletes.
Below is a short summary of my approach to youth athletic training:
Age 12 and under
In this group we are just focusing on basic athleticism, coordination, body awareness, and building movement and knowledge base so that when they are ready to start to load these movements they can progress more quickly and safely.
We are also going to make sure there is a play and competition element.
A big piece of advice I give parents of junior golfers is to not forget to let them be kids. Let them climb, run, jump, throw, kick, swim, play multiple sports and activities, and just be kids.
This is as important, if not more, for their mental and physical development as any exercise program at early ages.
Junior High and High School and Above
At this level, we are now starting to load the kids in the basic movement patterns. We are also starting to get a little more specific and purposeful in our training programs geared toward mobility, strength, and power development. We start to build strength in the basic lifts: squat, lunge, deadlift, presses, rows, and pull-ups.
We also start to train the rate of force development or power through med ball work, jumps, lifts with increased bar speed, and Olympic lift derivatives.
They are also now trying to really build the skills of baseball, requiring more practice time, so we help to build a body that can support that while not taking away from their ability to practice or play.
The main thing I want to accomplish with the juniors that I work with is to enjoy working out and the pursuit of getting better, enjoy health and wellness, enjoy the game of golf, and have fun. I put games and competitions into my training to help drive up progress and enjoyment.
We are trying to help develop them into strong, powerful, athletic, and resilient athletes and people. The majority of youth athletes won't play past the high school or college level, so my goal is for them to have a love and understanding of health and fitness regardless of where they go in life.
Dr. JP Guidry DPT TPI