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Training Mistakes Juniors Make

It was once thought that lifting at a young age was a bad idea. People were led to believe that lifting too early was dangerous, could stunt growth, cause injury, etc. Now, we know that beginning a strength training regimen at a young age can be wildly beneficial. Despite the fact that it is unlikely, if at all possible, for prepubescent children to make noticeable muscular adaptations from strength training, they will certainly experience neural adaptations. This means that they will learn how to move, brace, and perform fundamental movements with good technique. Being able to perform the fundamental movements correctly will set them up for success when they are going through, or finish puberty and are able to make muscular adaptations. All a high school/junior athlete needs to be a good candidate for strength training is the ability to follow directions!

Should Juniors Lift Weights?

Arguably the best thing about lifting weights as a junior/high schooler, is that “gains” come very easily. To be completely transparent, untrained young people do not even need a good program to see progress, they just need to do more than they are doing currently. However, if we want to ensure long term success with lower rates of injury, (or just get ahead of the curve) it is important to master the basics early! So, let’s discuss some mistakes high school and junior athletes make in their training.

Junior Golfer Training Mistakes

The #1 most feared, misunderstood exercise is the deadlift. It is not uncommon for parents to ask if it’s safe for their young children to perform deadlifts, typically because they’re worried they will hurt their backs. When asked this, I tell them that learning to deadlift and perform other hinge exercises early is arguably the most essential pattern to learn as a young athlete. Learning to hinge teaches us how to load into and utilize the muscles in the posterior chain (glutes, hams, erectors) all while maintaining a neutral spine. Hinging also mimics the pattern we perform every time we address the ball, as well as the downward motion of a vertical jump (which is 1 of our 2 biggest predictors for club head speed). Lastly, it will help strengthen the entire back side of your body, as well as reduce risk of injury!

Another mistake juniors make is putting little to no effort into mobility. On average, children are more flexible/mobile than older kids and adults, as they typically haven’t had enough time to incur injuries, nagging pains, imbalances, etc. This can cause younger athletes to think that mobility is unimportant, or that they are a unique case and do not need it. Even if an athlete passes every mobility test with flying colors, it will still benefit them to perform regular mobility work. As the athletes grow and gain strength, it is inevitable that they will eventually experience tightness, nagging aches, pains, etc. Being proactive with our mobility rather than reactive is a great way to keep this to a minimum. Click here to test your mobility at home!

High School Golfer Training Mistakes

As for high school athletes, the most common mistake I see is not spending parts of the year (off season) training with a focus on hypertrophy (muscle growth). Not believing in hypertrophy oriented training seems to be a common theme within athletic training. The logic behind this is usually something along the lines of “they’re athletes, not bodybuilders!”. While this is true and athletes SHOULD be spending time training the multiple different physical characteristics needed within their sport, hypertrophy is the base of strength and power. So, although gaining muscle mass does not inherently increase our club head speed, it certainly gives us the potential to! We can think of this like building a house. The amount of muscle mass an athlete has is the foundation, strength, and power are our walls, and club head speed is our ceiling. A larger, sturdier foundation means the potential for a higher ceiling!

The second most common mistake I see high schoolers make is a lack of intent while performing rate of force development exercises, such as jumps, throws, or any other plyometric exercise. I frequently see younger athletes performing swings with speed sticks at what appears to be around 50% effort. This would be like trying to increase your sprint speed by walking. So, if our goal is to increase our swing speed, we should be swinging fast!

In conclusion, there are a few major mistakes you can avoid as a young golfer with the goal of getting as fast as possible. 

1. Learn how to perform fundamental exercises with sound technique early

2. Always do your mobility work

3. Train hard and build a big base for a higher ceiling

4. If you want to be fast, train fast!

Author-

Owen Martin

Golf Performance Coach

Disclaimer: This blog content is for general educational information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. References available upon request.

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