There is a wide body of research and evidence that tells us how integral a structured strength and conditioning program can be for a student-athlete both on and off the playing field. Furthermore, the implementation of a strength training program can also help these young athletes to reduce the likelihood of injury by being more physically prepared for sports.
Most kids in high school and college are constantly playing sports year-round and never make time for strength training. This is something we really want to avoid if the goal is long-term health and durability. The other piece to the puzzle is that some athletes even go from doing absolutely nothing at all to doing a lot in a really short period of time, which we know is likely a recipe for injury.
In light of this, let me break down 5 reasons why strength training can provide a positive impact for high school and college athletes:
Think of workload as the overall amount of stress that an athlete endures on a daily basis, such as the following:
Mental aspects such as working on homework and projects to cramming for exams and practicals
Hygienic aspects such as lack of quality sleep, nutrition and/or hydration, all of which are low hanging fruit in the recovery process
Social aspects such as not hanging out with friends or breaking up with someone
Environmental aspects such as not being able to go outside and being stuck at home
The list goes on and on here, but you get the point. Being able to manage all of these items in the daily process can be challenging for many student-athletes. However, the incorporation of helpful recovery strategies can prove to be an integral part of the overall strength training process, which will allow the student-athlete to better manage these aforementioned areas.
Strength training will undoubtedly make you stronger, but it will also allow you to better manage these related stressors, in addition to improving your ability to recover. Some simple recovery strategies that are part of an overall strength training program incorporate some form of soft tissue work, breathing work, joint mobility, muscle flexibility, nutritional support and sleep education.
Improving your skills in all of these areas will allow you to recover better, feel better and also reduce the chance of injury by helping you manage your overall workload better, which brings me to my next point…
Strength training, as demonstrated in the literature through decades of research, has been proven time and time again to help athletes build overall strength. Moreover, what comes with this strength is an added layer of durability.
A more durable athlete is one that spends less time being injured and more time being available to play on the playing field. Strengthening the structural components of your body (i.e., muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, etc.) through the utilization of a structured strength training program is a major key for long-term success and health in athletics.
We know that strength training helps to improve several physical qualities, but we often don’t hear enough about the positive impact it has on the psychological aspects. This is an especially important topic as it pertains to the growing high school and college student-athlete.
Lifting weights is one thing. Lifting your head up, standing up proud and being more confident about yourself is a completely different ball game. That’s exactly what strength training does for a young athlete; it builds them up to feel better about themselves and improves their self-efficacy.
Too often we see high school and college athletes go from not doing anything physically active at all to all of a sudden jumping head first into high volumes of sports-specific activities. We need to do a better job at avoiding these major spikes in sports play, and instead keep a steady dosage of physical activity year-round through the utilization of regularly scheduled strength training sessions.
Strength training places the athlete in a position of success by preparing their bodies to withstand the rigors and demands of sports. Being strong and durable isn’t just about being powerful and explosive on your playing field. It’s also about being physically prepared to endure the pounding and repetitive usage of sports.
The high school and college years are pivotal in the overall development process of young athletes. Strength training can serve as an anchor that holds student-athletes accountable and can also serve as a structured routine to adhere to.
This sense of structure and accountability at an early age undoubtedly bodes well for building good character skills for the long-term. Not every student-athlete will make it into professional sports or the like. However, every student-athlete will make it into the “real world”, so preparing them for that with good character skills and accountability traits early on will certainly help.
Learn more about how your high school and college student-athlete can stay strong and healthy this summer with our Virtual Summer Training Program!
Matthew Ibrahim is the Co-Owner, Director of Strength & Conditioning and Internship Coordinator at TD Athletes Edge in Salem, MA. Throughout his career, Matthew has been an invited guest speaker nationally in over 10 U.S. states, which was highlighted by his presentations at Google Headquarters, Stanford University, Equinox, Lululemon and Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, in addition to guest speaking internationally in Milan, Italy. He has also been an invited guest speaker by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) at the regional conference level and at the state clinic level. His professional work has been featured in some of the world’s largest publications, such as Men's Health, Men’s Fitness and STACK Media. Currently, he is a PhD student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in the Human and Sport Performance program. Matthew also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Endicott College and an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Maryville University.