In his book, “Starting Strength”, Mark Rippetoe talks about barbell training for kids. Mark references a chart that shows that strength training for kids, is one of the safest activities while soccer is one of the most dangerous activities for kids.
Now most people probably would think this to be backwards. They most likely think soccer is one of the safest activities until they witness 2 or more 80 pound + kids run into each other at full speed with no pads on.
Mark writes that “Gym class, at 0.18, is more dangerous than supervised weight training. Yet it is still common for medical professionals to advise against weight training for kids. The most cursory glance at the actual data renders this recommendation foolishness.”
I agree. I remember growing up in Austin and finding out that some of my friends (we were in 6th grade) were going to a neighbors house in the morning to do strength training before school. The man’s name was “Mr. Hockers” and he was a legend in our neighborhood. Strength training wasn’t on my radar at the time, so I did not go. But I never forgot how some of my classmates went consistenly and got stronger and faster and to my knowledge, never got injured.
When I was in 8th grade, I spent the Summer hauling hay. Now for any of you agricultural types out there, you know that this one of the toughest activities that one can do on Gods green earth. The way we did it went like this – a truck or tractor slowly drove along the pasture while we picked up bales of hay and threw them up onto the tailgate of the truck or onto the trailer of the tractor. Once the truck or trailer was full, you unloaded it in the barn. The bales weighed 70 pounds and up. Sounds like strength training to me. Lifting, throwing, unloading, stacking.
Rippetoe goes on to say that “The most intensely silly argument of all is that weight training stunts a kid’s growth. But hauling hay does not? Such nonsense is not really worthy of response. Not only does weight training at a young age not harm developing bones and joints, but it produces thicker, more durable articular cartilage surfaces that persist into adulthood, and likely contributes to long-term joint health. The mechanical and biological conditions produced by full-ROM barbell training affect the skeletal components of both adults and children in a positive way (Carter,Dennis R. and Gary S. Beaupré, Skeletal Function and Form , Cambridge University Press, 2001).”
Strength training is scalable. You can start a kid with bodyweight push ups. You can then move to a broomstick to teach correct handling and form. A light barbell is next with no added weight. Finally, once the beginner criteria has been met, you can safely start to add weight. With soccer, you can’t scale. Not in a game, anyway.
That’s my son Dalton in the top picture. He’s watched me workout for years – used to go to Golds Gym Kids Club while I trained. Now he’s 11 and ready to start. I’ve been waiting for this time to come. I don’t add any pressure or expectation to his workouts. I let him tell me what he wants to do and then we go about doing it in the safest most efficient manner that I know of.
We’re having a blast!