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Strength Training Considerations for Junior Athletes

Youth Athlete Development

Strength and Conditioning for our youth and adolescence during their formative years of motor development has only recently reached mainstream popularity; it was only nine years ago during a shoe fitting by an ‘expert’ I was told to not go to the gym until I was 18, in fear of compressing my spine and stunting my growth. Times have certainly changed, and the value of complementary training as a means of developing movement competency in our youth and adolescents is regularly discussed and implemented amongst school sport programs. In an age where free, unorganised play is dwindling, the importance of moving and loading the developing body in ways over and above the demands of the chosen sport(s) is vital; it is this exposure that provides joint resilience and body control for the years to come.

For our youth, entering a secondary education aligns with a great increase in independent thought, problem solving, and emotional intelligence. It also aligns with large changes that occur during puberty, as children diverge away from homogeneity to develop the characteristics that make men male, and women female. From a movement development perspective, some handle these changes exceptionally well, while others develop physically in a disproportionate manner to their improvements to body control.

As a strength and conditioning coach who works primarily with adolescent athletes, I regularly find myself conflicted; part of me wants to indulge their requests for more strength as this is what is usually used as the objective measure for performance improvement (and how they compare themselves to their peers), but another part of me wants to strip movement back to its bare form – can the kids sprint, jump, effectively absorb force (body control), adequately apply force (strength expression), and more generally, move well. Changes to how kids interact with the environment have challenged the development in these areas; the almost endless interaction with technology has suppressed their opportunities to move; and as a result, we see deterioration in movement capabilities a lot sooner. It isn’t uncommon after 12 years of life to have a young adolescent unable to squat, hinge, crawl, push, pull, sprint, jump and land without tremendous difficulty. 6 years earlier, they would have done this with ease. What is potentially most confronting is that our education curriculum, which successfully improves intellectual parameters, stagnates, and in some cases, regresses the ability to move effectively and unhindered. It would seem the value of intelligence and problem solving is somewhat thwarted when the vessel that keeps us alive is already giving way. By 30, this movement deterioration manifests not only in dysfunction, but in pain.

I recently came across a concept from Louie Simmons’ that almost instantly transformed my outlook on youth athlete development – build the car for efficiency and survivability before you add horsepower. It was mentioned within the context of sprint mechanics (which therefore applies to almost every field and team sport); technical efficiency should be the first priority when our bodies are most conditioned to adaptation and change. Not only does this result in the most immediate improvements, but allows strength training to do what it is meant to do – add horsepower to a well running machine. It is too often we get this process reversed – “get them in the gym so they can run faster and play better”. This thought process is fine, as long as you have already established your athlete moves with technical efficiency. If you are a strength and conditioning coach putting more weight on the bar for your athletes, knowing all too well they can’t balance on one leg, or haven’t learned how to sprint, could you be producing a more immediate, long term result working on the chassis of the car instead?

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Master Your Mental Game Mini-Course | Athletes Authority

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Let's start with your contact details...

We’ll use your email address to send you our information before the call. We also respect your privacy like it’s our own. We will never sell, distribute or divulge your information to anyone, ever.

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We’ll use your email address to send you our information before the call. We also respect your privacy like it’s our own. We will never sell, distribute or divulge your information to anyone, ever.

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Monique Le Mottee

Athletic Physiotherapist & Rehab Coach

Qualifications:

  • Bachelors of Physiotherapy
  • Masters of Strength & Conditioning 

This may not be a PC thing to say, but when Lachlan and I met Mon, we were immediately in love. She got the role as an intern before she left the interview (which we never do).

We knew Mon would be an amazing fit from the get go — her passion for sports is infectious and she’s a dynamic young physiotherapist keen to combine her skills as a strength and conditioning coach. It’s the 1-2-3 combination we look for in our staff and any athletic facility can only dream of in a hire.

Since starting with us, we’ve had to put a pause on the amount of positive feedback we receive about her — it’s clogging my desk space.

You’ll see Mon on the gym floor, keeping our athletes tuned in the physio clinic and out on the pitch with the Mac Uni AFL team as their Head of Performance.

Justin Richardson

Athletic Physiotherapist & Rehab Coach

Qualifications:

  • Bachelors of Physiotherapy
  • Masters of Strength & Conditioning (undertaking) 

Justin has developed a passion for sports performance, finding his greatest interest in bridging the gap between traditional hands-on physiotherapy and the guidance and care required to get an athlete back to sport and performing at their best.

Having worked with the Cronulla Sharks and South Sydney Rabbitohs, he has a deep understanding of the requirements to succeed at a high level of sport and is committed to providing you with the expertise to help you get back to doing what you love.

Alan Robinson

Lead Sports Physiotherapist

Qualifications:

  • Bachelors of Applied Science (Physiotherapy)
  • Masters of Sports Physiotherapy

Alan is a titled APA Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist who has spent his whole career living and breathing sports rehabilitation.

His career as a physiotherapist has seen him work with the NSW Waratahs and the Sydney Blue Sox, managing injuries that range from the acute-stage to end-stage rehabilitation. His philosophy aims to address long term athletic development and bring high-performance rehabilitation to athletes.

His work has been in close proximity to rehabilitation coaches, strength & power coaches, head coaches and high-performance managers, making him an asset on your journey to rehabilitation and back to full health.

Tom Longworth

Sports Doctor

Qualifications:

  • Bachelors of Medicine
  • Post Graduate Diploma of Sport & Exercise Medicine

Dr Tom Longworth became a registrar of the Australasian College of Sports and Exercise Physicians in 2016 and is currently in his 3rd year of specialist training. He completed his medical degree with the University of Newcastle in 2010 and has had 5 years of experience in Emergency and intensive care medicine across Australia since graduating.

He has a wide variety of experience working with elite sports people, currently assistant medical officer at The Sydney Roosters Rugby League Club, team doctor for the Sydney FC Youth League and Head Doctor of the World Champion Jillaroos (Australian Women’s Rugby League Team). Other sports coverage includes the Sydney 7s rugby union, Australian school boy rugby union, Bledisloe Cup and National Rowing regattas as well as voluntary work abroad with the Surfing Doctors’ Association.

Dr Longworth has recently completed his postgraduate diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine through the University of Bath (UK). He has published research relating to stem cell treatment for knee osteoarthritis and is currently investigating concussion incidence in the NRL, as well as conducting a trial on shin splint management.

Tom currently sees our athletes out of his home base at Eastern Suburbs Sports Medicine Centre.

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Lachlan Wilmot

DIRECTOR OF COACHING & PERFORMANCE

Qualifications:

  • Bachelors of Exercise and Sport Science
  • Honors in Rate of Force Development in Team Sport Athletes

Lachlan began his professional sports coaching career as the second ever employee at the GWS Giants in 2010-11 season prior to entering the AFL in 2012. Over 7 seasons, Lachlan grew a team of talented young men into back-to-back preliminary finals contenders. As the head of strength and power, his role was to turn teenagers into physically dominant men, developing their strength, power, speed and most importantly, their resistance to injury.

In 2018, Lachlan’s success afforded him the opportunity to shift codes, having been offered the role of High Performance Manager for the NRL’s Parramatta Eels.

In as little as one rebuild season, he had taken the wooden spooners of 2018 to the finals in 2019, where they inflicted the greatest defeat of the Brisbane Broncos in NRL history. By 2019, it was time for Lachlan to go ‘all-in’ on his other baby, Athletes Authority.

Now, Lachlan leads the performance program, designing the programs for all the athletes here. He works closely with the sports medicine team, just like he did in pro sport, to help athletes achieve more and reach new heights with their athletic careers.

Karl Goodman

FOUNDER & DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Karl began his career in coaching as a Personal Trainer back in 2007. After competing for NSW as a Baseballer, and then competing at an elite standard as a cyclist throughout university,  Karl received the opportunity to work with Gordon Rugby in the Shute Shield competition. From there, he found a way to marry his passion in sports and competition with coaching; selling his investment property to start Athletes Authority in early 2016.

Starting from humble beginnings, the facility vision was taken to another level when Lachlan and Karl partnered up in 2017 and Athletes Authority was incorporated. It was no longer just a gym training athletes; Athletes Authority was committed to becoming a brand athletes worldwide could rely on for quality coaching, advice and service.