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Welcome to what will be quite obviously my first go at writing a blog post … Be gentle. The substance in this blog is based around my own observations as a parent and evidence I have gathered from training children from the ages of 8 to 18 in a variety of different sports including Football, Tennis, Muay Thai, Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting.

As with anything you should perform your own due diligence on the subject but I hope I can provide some insight nonetheless.

To expand on the title I will be going through my position on the following sub-titles-

  • Why I think parents should put physical development on par with academic development
  • How to encourage physical development
  • What to consider as a child develops.

Firstly and possibly what may seem most controversially, I believe physical development is as important as academic development particularly in babies and toddlers is due not only to their short attention span with learning colours, shapes, numbers and letters or the exponential rate at which they develop physically once they’re mobile but because the opportunity to take a multi-faceted approach is highest.

At the early stages, neural plasticity (the capacity of the nervous system to modify itself, functionally and structurally, in response to experience) is high so it seems a shame to not take advantage.

Combining physical activity with whatever academic attribute you are looking to develop will allow you to kill 2 birds with 1 stone

  • Keeping the child’s attention and improving physicality.
  • Moving on to how to encourage physical development.

I am sure most of us are aware of the term “overbearing parent” and although it makes for a funny conversation it is also something to be considered.

Encouraging physical behaviour requires exactly that “encouragement” and to maintain a child’s interest it should be positive.

Fun should be the primary focus of any physical activity in a child’s life if you would like any long-term habits to be formed and adhered to.

This premise shouldn’t be forgotten even when they get older and start school and are doing actual sport.
(Just a reminder, this is my opinion)

When children get older the attention they can hold for a sport can increase but until such a time I think it’s better to allow them to explore a variety of different avenues at their behest.

On a side note- having said that, an amount of encouragement should be placed towards focus and discipline as they get older.

Lastly- Things to consider.

This is more regarding the athletic and physical development of a child.

To help a child develop in a sport should they choose one, then practicing the direct skills of said sport is important but developing their overall physical ability should not be ignored and yes mums and dads at some point that means a gym will have its place however it needs to be said that seeking a good Strength and Conditioning coach is something to consider to not only maintain focus and direction in their training to best benefit their sport but to also ensure their safety in the gym environment.

If a coach is approached with the opportunity to train a developing athlete it should not be taken lightly and above all they should keep it fun!

From a safety point of view, children lifting weights can be done safely providing proper form is prioritised and loads lifted are appropriate to prevent breakdown of technique, with all that out of the way, the result of a child performing resistance training is not stunted growth, deformed bones and fast track to steroids.

Instead what you end up with is increased bone mineral density, better coordination and greater athletic output and from a psychological point of view, personally I have a son so can only speak from experience, any opportunity we get to aim the boys energy at physical tasks makes the rest of the day a lot easier and the internal parts of the house a lot more intact.

If you have made it this far,
Thank you, and I hope you found something of use.
We at Underground Gym are looking forward to seeing all of our members old and new as soon as possible!
Jacob Snodgrass