When Aaron claimed that he had grown to 193cm since the Draft Combine, it started me thinking of things I'd heard regarding the training of, and the performance of athletes, while they are undergoing a growth spurt. Aaron's modified training might purely be about building his 'tank', but it might also be modified for other reasons.
Keeping in mind that a 193cm 93kg (possible) key position player is not expected to out sprint Travis Colyer.
According to the book Bright Futures in Practice: Physical Activity, published by Georgetown University, a temporary decline in coordination and balance may occur during puberty because of rapid growth. In many cases, this decline is not only demonstrated through sports performance, but also in regular physical activity. This experience can be frustrating for coaches, trainers, youth athletes, and parents, particularly if this decrease in athleticism is interpreted as a lack of skill or effort.
"Based on sports fundamentals, AGS training should focus on movement-based strength, overall fitness, speed and agility, plyometric work, and instilling confidence."
Knowing that adolescent growth spurts (AGS) and the accompanying athletic awkwardness are normal in this phase of puberty does not make it any easier for the youth athlete. As well as physically affecting sports performance, AGS can also affect athletes socially and mentally. It can also have detrimental effects on core strength, postural control, and performance - including skill, speed, coordination, and agility - as athletes struggle to adjust to their rapidly growing and changing bodies.
Adolescent coaches and trainers recognize the physical changes that occur during AGS can decrease overall skills, speed, coordination, and agility. Coaches, trainers, parents, and athletes must also be aware of the athlete’s susceptibility to training injuries, especially during and after AGS.
The good news is that coaches and trainers who are aware of AGS can help alleviate and reduce athletic awkwardness by incorporating specific aspects of training into practices and training sessions. The Soccer Speed & Agility Clinic ebook, published by the Soccer Fit Academy, addresses these particulars of training. Although this book is geared specifically to soccer players, the common-sense approach of training through AGS is applicable to youth athletes of every sport.
Based on sports fundamentals, AGS training should focus on the following five factors:
Speed and agility
It is important to note that while AGS is considered phased training, the fundamentals may be used separately or may be merged. The emphasis in AGS training, as opposed to a regular training session, is that particular attention is paid to the execution of proper biomechanics through all aspects of training for a growing athlete.
Training load means the accumulation of purposeful practice. The number of practices per week + the intensity of the practice + the duration of a practice can determine a player’s ‘load’ and if not carefully managed, particularly during the growth spurt phase, it can lead to an accumulation of fatigue, resulting in a drop in performance and worse, a greater risk of injury. Nutrition and good recovery techniques are of great importance as well.
It’s particularly important to manage players during their growth spurts. In essence the body needs a lot of energy to grow and if that energy is being spent on a heavy training load, the body has little resources left to repair and grow.