Dear Football Mom,
What age is appropriate for a boy to work out in a weight room? Our son is only in 6th grade, and the middle school coach is having the team work out in the high school weight room before spring practice. I think this is excessive, my husband doesn’t. What say you?
Great question! Let’s see if we can whittle it down and keep it simple. Remember, I’m the heart behind the gridiron, not the expert technique trainer or specialist supervisor in such matters. That said, I have learned a smidge or two through the years.
It is important, imperative even, as a child gets older to do some form of training if they are going to play any sport, not just football. But let’s see if we can first grasp a few layers about weight training.
Y’all understand that a boy—if they are playing or intend to play football—has got to love that weight room, as if it makes their heart go pitter-patter every time they step foot in there. Just like one of them gals who caught their eye and makes their heart do the same thing when they pass her in the halls. Ya gotta love the weight room and the aroma. Once mamas understand that, the rest really isn’t rocket science. Here’s my take on the info I’ve read or gathered from coaches through the years. Having two sons working out and the up-close experience of that didn’t hurt, because I was right where you are now with questions galore.
Before age ten, kids should exercise using only their body weight as resistance such as: pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, squats, and lunges. Any games that are fun to get children moving, all the better. Running starts and stops, skipping and throwing are all great. We can thank President Kennedy for today’s P. E. programs implemented at our schools.
After ten, they can usually add resistance bands under the careful eye of an expert, like a strength coach. Now then, it is also very important that proper technique be taught all the way through every age level. My sons are huge believers in correct technique, they are adamant to the point of being dogged determined about it.
Once fellers reach thirteen, fourteen, and so on, specific sport training should begin. This age enters the maturity of young muscles, tendons, and growth platelets and can handle a gradual intensity volume of workouts with weights. Can’t stress enough that whoever is calling the shots should be well-trained in sports weight strength and conditioning and have done it themselves at some point.
The reason weight training is a good thing: It’s been proven, especially in football and surely other sports too, but I do football so here’s the skibby in that sport—it is the KEY to keeping players healthy and avoiding severe injuries. Approximately seventy-eight percent of injuries are to the upper body for those who did NOT have a set weight-lifting program in a three-year study of high school football players. That study done a few years ago does not give coaches a free pass to run amuck without guidelines in place. Good coaches want healthy players—injured players are just not useful. No coach worth his salt wants his players getting hurt, especially in the weight room!
Weight and strength training enriches athletes of all sports, true, but I reckon maybe football more than others. Training increases muscle strength, endurance, protects players’ joints, strengthens bones, and enriches performance. Not to mention the health benefits: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, boosts metabolism, promotes healthy weight, and improves self-esteem. Those are all recipes for a healthy team.
Nothing wrong with you doing your homework so you can see first hand what your son is doing and how your coach is benefiting him in the long run. Go visit the weight room. I suppose he’ll be a seventh grader next year, and I don’t think you’d want him stepping on the field without some training and time spent conditioning.
Of course, if you do go to the weight room while he and his team are working out, I’m almost sure your son would get some hounding from his teammates. Go anyway! A little bird-dogging could make your son tougher and backfire on his teammates once he sets some school records playing next year. Just a thought. And, I do try to keep it positive.
Footnote: That brings me to my closeout for the year. I’m starting next season with “hazing” issues. Be sure to check that out next August in your local newspaper. I’ll be back.
In the meantime, send me your questions, Candy@CandyAWestbrook.com, and as always, complete confidentiality here. Best wishes for an awesome spring practice. Looking forward to hearing all about it.
I have to say, y’all have been swell this year. Thanks to each of you for allowing me the opportunity to game plan together. I’m grateful beyond words. In some small way, I hope we added to your conversation and helped your sons reach or exceed their football goals, and maybe extinguished a few fires along the way. I meet moms/parents/fans of football at www.CandyAWestbrook.com throughout the year. Feel free to stop by and say howdy.