How young is “too young” to start physical training?

There’s quite a stereotype pointing out that a person should not start physical training until they have reached their full development (over 18 years old). Is that true?

Physical development for teenager is one of the most important matter in sport science today. In this article, PVF sport scientist Lê Cao Cường will analyze and show out some research in the world and what we’re applying in PVF. Let’s find out how young is “too young” to start physical training.

1

This is one of the most impressive research in sport science recently, published in 2014 on the ACSM. Scientists have collected many academic research of athletes in different sports to come up with a theoritical framework. This framework includes 4 cases and their effects on the neuromuscular potential:
– Children with no strength & conditioning or sport
– Children with sport only
– Children with strength & conditioning activities initiated during adolescence (12 to 18 years old)
– Children with strength & conditioning activities initiated during pre-adolescence (before 12 years old/puberty)

The training model is Intergrative Neuromuscular Training, which includes:
– Resistance Training
– Dynamic Stability
– Core Training
– Plyometric & Agility

The result shows that:

– Children with no training at all might not be able to achieve their neuromuscular potential when mature.
– Children with sport only might be able to reach to their neuromuscular potential when mature
– Children with strength & conditioning activities initiated during adolescence (puberty) can go beyond their neuromuscular potential when mature
– Children with strength & conditioning activities initiated during pre-adolescence (pre-puberty) can go far beyond their neuromuscular potential when mature

Please note that “potential” here is the potential of the neuromuscular system, which is just one important factor to see if the children can achieve success with their chosen sport or not. This research does not take into account other factor such as technical skill, tactical skills or mental ability, which are also the determinants of sport success.

Conclusion:
To professional sport, it is evident that the development process of elite athletes requires early physical training, since their pre-adolescence or at least adolescence so that the childeren can achieve or move beyond their neuromuscular abilities.

At the community level, we should allow children to have training or to play a sport at early age to optimise their physical potential when they mature. Of course we have to teach them how to train properly.

(ReReference: Myer, G. D., Lloyd, R. S., Brent, J. L., & Faigenbaum, A. D. (2013). How Young is “Too Young” to Start Training? ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 17(5), 14–23. http://doi.org/10.1249/FIT.0b013e3182a06c59)

(To be continued)

  • Lê Cao Cường/PVF

 

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