Growth and maturation plays a major role in adolescent female athletes. Due to the high performance level of competitive sports there needs to training/programming built in to allow for strength and muscle development. This development improves skills and physical abilities while combating injury and instability. During the maturation process in female athletes, bones and muscles become longer and leaner. Muscle mass growth needs to be induced to ensure stability of longer limbs. When muscle stability is weak the risk of injury is very high due to improper muscle mechanics.
Benefits of Strength Training
- Improved muscle stability
- Improved strength and power output
- Improved neuromuscular control
- Improved skill development
- Decreased risk of injury
Female adolescent athletes are at a high risk for knee injuries specifically due to valgus of the knee, inward movement of the knee during athletic movements such as landing, jumping, and running. Proper strength training can improve muscle mass and strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glute muscles which decreases the level of knee valgus, in turn decreasing the risk of injuries.
Strength training not only decreases the risk of injury, but improves strength and power. These two attributes play an important role in most athletic movements such as acceleration, jump ability, and the ability to start and stop. Strength training increases muscle fiber activation and efficiency so athletic movements not only improve their effectiveness, but also expends less energy as well.
When strength training is programmed properly it can increase the release of growth hormones in the body, improving the rate of maturation in adolescent athletes. Athletes can see a major increase in growth, neuromuscular control, strength, power, and overall athletic ability. However, a poorly planned strength program can create negative effects on the body as well. It is important to ensure proper progressions and loads/volumes are programmed within a strength training regiment in youth.
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