With the growing trend of strength and conditioning in youth sports nowadays, it is important to understand exactly how it works and what an athlete should expect to gain from strength training. Over the course of the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to coach many different athletes across multiple sports, both professional and amateur. More recently, I have had the opportunity to coach and train an Ontario Hockey Federation championship team in the Bantam A loop (Grimsby Kings), multiple highly recruited football players on both sides of the border, and even some young athletes who are just starting their journey.
What my experience dictates is that, far too often, there are misconceptions that strength training will directly make people into better athletes or make them perform their sport more proficiently. This is wishful thinking! What strength training will do is strengthen the body and increase confidence so that athletes can better perform the activities that are required in their sport(s). This is often referred to as “unlocking athletic potential”. However, the specific skills of each sport must be acquired and improved within the sport’s own practices, not strength-training sessions. For example: doing push-ups will make someone better at doing push-ups and swinging a baseball bat will make one better at swinging a baseball bat, but push-ups will help one swing a bat with more power and strength.
For the athletes I coach, I leave the sports-specific skills development (stick handling, catching, shooting) to the coaches of their teams. We work on a training plan that develops athletic qualities across all areas of sport (speed, strength, power, agility, quickness, confidence) that enhances the training of their own coaches. But, much like any skill development, it all takes time.
With the championship hockey team, we started training during the summer of 2015 in a local park long before the season was set to begin. We trained one day a week to start, increased the sessions to two per week in the early portion of the season, and then decreased to one per week as the team went deep into the playoffs. With regards to the football players I train, we begin our strength-training program just a few weeks after the end of the season and train until the next season begins, being sure to track progress and re-assess goals along the way.
Strength-training sessions at TNT are always conducted in a supervised environment, and the reason for this is safety. At TNT, athletes can completely focus on unlocking their athletic potential to become more confident and more skilled in their chosen sport.
True North Training is the premiere all-ages strength-training facility in the region, located at 299 Lake St. in Grimsby. Visit TNT online at www.truenorthtraining.ca