My son is 7 yrs old and a little on the small side but enjoys sports including football. I have been working with him over the past few weeks on strength training (non-weights) doing squats, push-up, sit ups etc - can anyone direct me to articles/literure that maybe you have read that can help me? Are light weights acceptable for this age? Thanks
I don’t know of any articles here or otherwise that specialize in training for children that young. Bodyweight exercises are fine, but don’t overdo it. If he wants to play football, then he should play football and not focus on getting big yet. At that age, he is not producing enough hormones to see significant progress as far as muscle mass is concerned.
Teaching him the basics of eating healthy and making sure he gets enough exercise through activities is enough, in my opinion. This will pave the way for him to become bigger and stronger in the future (6-7 years down the road) if he pleases.
One guy you might want to talk to is James Smith over at elitefts.com in their Q&A, I know he trains a lot of young kids and is very knowledgeable.
You might also want to look at “Strength Training for Young Athletes” by Kraemer and Fleck.
Remember that the most important thing for him is general physical preparedness. The best thing he can do is master his own bodyweight (sounds like you are doing that already), play a variety of sports and learn the proper technique of the basics, so that when his body and nervous (as well as his maturity level and attention span) are ready for “serious” training, he can hit the ground running, without having to spend a year as a 14-year old learning how to squat.
Also, at this age, his coordination and reflexes can still be developed, and that window will shut as he gets older. So anything where he’s working on reacting with hand-eye or foot-eye coordination to a stimulus requiring quickness (as in a quick, un-loaded movement of the limbs) is probably a good idea.
Agree with all of the above, esp. jtrinsey. Also, look into some of the Russian manuals over at elitefts. Sounds strange, but while not directed at young children, they have some interesting blurbs in there that are as good as gold. Besides they’ll help YOU in your training. Also “Science of Sports Training” by Thomas Kurz has some really good stuff on organization and guidelines. Also not written for young people, but lots of applicable things, plus a few interesting tidbits about what the Russians determined about optimum ages for different abilities in children (coordination, agility, etc).
I would also add that one great idea that the Russians used for their selected kids is to get him tumbling (rolling, cartwheeling, hand standing, etc) and doing gymnastic stuff. This will teach a lot of coordination and whole body strength. They also used a lot of games and team sports and contests. It will train lots and lots and lots of balance in “weird” positions. Besides, you can make it fun, kind of like a contest. I wish I’d had someone to put me through this stuff when I was younger.
As a bonus, having to show him this stuff yourself will really help you. haha. Not really funny. You’ll also be humbled by how hard it is and he can “beat dad” at something, maybe after a while. I never was that good at these things, and I wish I were. Change at this age (23) happens a lot slower for that kind of stuff. Rock climbing is good too, and fun, and it gets him outdoors. Say hello to back development, grip strength, and flexibility. You guys could take classes at a gym or camp.
i think the jist of these ideas is anything but weight training for now and a while from now. trinsey is right, the door closes as he gets older for some of these foundational abilities. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area, but I remember really being impressed with what I read about the eastern bloc organization and progression. I’m not sure, as I don’t have the manuals and book with me right now, but I think the Russians held off on weight training until 14 or so. I don’t think they suffered for it. Maybe someone else can correct me.
Good luck. He’s going to be a beast when he gets older. Maybe this early training will allow him to be accused of having “great genetics” later in life :).
Training can consist of movement efficiency (coordination) and strength
For strength purposes you could focus on exercises such as:
bodyweight squats, lunges, single leg squats onto a box, stepups, supine row, pullup progressions, dip progressions, wall sits, plank, glute bridges, overhead broomstick squats etc.
Or you could just enroll him an a gymnastics class and allow him all the strength work he needs in a “fun” environment
Movement efficiency/coordination and speed might consist of games such as hopskotch, jump rope, as well as any other sports he might play.
The thing is you don’t want to specialize too young. Get him good at a lot of things and he’ll be a better football player in the long run.
Joey Rugby, as it is called is great for kids at elementary school ages. Throwing and catching the ball is great for developing coordination as well, rugby trains strength as well as speed. The running and conditioning of soccer and the strength and power of football. Besides, it’s the most interesting sport to watch. The action never stops.
It’s not league then.