High school strength and conditioning is not only important for building the tools needed to enhance performance in an athlete’s sport, but will reduce injuries, build confidence and mental toughness, increase flexibility, improve coordination, and make their transition to college sports much smoother.
Even though all signs are pointing to strength and conditioning being crucial for athletes competing in a high school setting, many athletes, coaches, and athletic directors reject the implementation of training at this age. This is ridiculous and must be changed.
In this article, I am going to cover all of the bases as to why a high school athlete should be following a strength and conditioning training program.
The list of reasons why high school strength and conditioning is important could really go on forever, but here are some of the most important points:
Strength and conditioning is going to improve performance on the field, court, or wherever else an athlete might be competing by making them faster, stronger, and more powerful than their competitors. This is a universal truth, but for high school athletes, it is even more evident.
Untrained high school athletes are weak… duh. It’s not hard to stand out physically from others when your weight training is allowing you to move faster and be more powerful for longer periods of time than them. Strength and conditioning can make or break performances, so it’s important for athletes at the high school level to maximize their training. The results will speak for themselves.
It’s important to understand that injuries are a part of sports and even athletes following the “best” training plan will suffer them. With that being said, the rate that injuries are sustained and the severity of them can be significantly reduced with strength and conditioning.
One study showed that high school athletes following a strength and conditioning program have an injury rate of 26.2% while their counterparts that were not performing any strength training had an astonishing injury rate of 72.4%. Wow. Among this same group, the rehabilitation time for the trained athletes took less than half the amount of time than untrained. (1)
The body adapts to strength training by increasing the size of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments in the surrounding area being targeted by stress. By controlling the stress placed on certain parts of the body during training, the body will be prepared to handle the uncontrolled stress seen in competition, reducing the amount and severity of each injury.
A soft tissue injury is bad enough, but a head, neck or spine injury is an injury that must be avoided at all costs, especially early on in a young athlete’s career and life.
Training the neck and core muscles within a strength and conditioning program will help stabilize and reduce the risk of an athlete suffering spinal cord injuries and concussions.
I highly encourage you to check out one of my recent articles on neck training. Every athlete should incorporate aspects of neck training into their program to keep them safe.
High School is a time that athletes need to learn and perfect the necessary skills to excel at their sport. This, however, is near impossible with inadequate levels of strength.
Weak athletes will often have hard times moving into new positions that require strength and even more difficulty producing large amounts of force while in these positions. Strength is crucial to perfect movements that are essential to the new sport or technique.
If one muscle isn’t firing as it should during a particular movement, other muscles must take over to provide adequate force for the task. This can lead to injury and subpar performances by the athlete.
Let’s face it, high school student-athletes have a lot going on and minimal life experience. Confidence can be hard to come by in their everyday life, but even more so in sports. One bad game can sit in an inexperienced or mentally weak athlete’s head for years.
Confidence comes by being sure that you have done everything possible to achieve the best performance. Strength and conditioning is one crucial piece of that puzzle. If an athlete knows that they have done the necessary work, they will be able to show up with the confidence to perform at their highest level.
And hey, let’s face it, having bigger quads than the guy directly next to you won’t hurt confidence levels either.
Today’s society rewards losing. Everything is made so easy for upcoming athletes that they are often rewarded trophies for just showing up.
The only way to develop mental toughness is by getting knocked down and getting back up, time after time after time. How can we mimic this and create an impenetrable athlete that can take anything? Strength and conditioning is a great place to start.
An untrained athlete has no idea how far the body can truly go. It’s only through pushing boundaries that an athlete can callous the mind into one of a true competitor.
Strength and conditioning is a major part of Post-Secondary athletics. Any athlete that makes a team at the next level with no background in strength training will suffer.
Of course, exceptions will be seen, but in order to build the best possible athlete, a major emphasis should be placed on strength and conditioning for every single one of the points I made above.
The importance of high school strength and conditioning is due to the fact that training improves performance by increasing size, speed, strength, and power, allows for skill learning and mastery, improves confidence, and builds mental toughness while reducing the risk and severity of injury.