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The Importance of Recovery for Youth Athletes

It seems like youth athlete’s energy storage never runs out. You may watch your child and think,

“Will they ever get tired?”

“How are they still going?”

Just watching them go and go sometimes tires you out!

It’s great that kids are full of energy, but because they act like energizer bunnies on a regular basis we sometimes forget that although they may still be on the move, there comes a time when they need to take a rest and recover.

But how much rest is enough rest for your young athlete and how do you know when to implement that recovery time into their schedule? 

When we talk about athlete performance, we usually focus on their training and assume that if athletes are receiving the best training possible, then they will reach their highest potential. While this notion is true, training is only ONE component of improving athletic performance.

Recovery and training go hand in hand. If your youth athlete is exhausted, sore and worn down, regardless of how great the training they are receiving is, they will not benefit from it as they would have if they were well-rested and ready to perform.

We all need a rest and recovery period, but it is especially important for young athletes. Here are some recovery guidelines for your young athletes and the reason why rest and recovery is crucial for their developing bodies.

Physical Development in Youth Athletes

It’s no surprise that your young athlete is constantly developing physically. You witness it with your own eyes. They get taller, stronger etc., and with this physical growth they also fundamentally change and mature.

While every child experiences physical and fundamental growth at their own pace, the golden-age of motor learning falls between the ages 6-13 years old. During youth, athletes learn their foundation; the skills that they develop now are the ones they will carry with them into adolescence and beyond.

During their youth, your athlete is learning how to learn. Essentially this means that they are a clean slate that is figuring out how to do all sorts of new things. For athletes these new things are developing their fine and gross motor skills, coordination, and basic motor patterns.

As a parent, you already know that youth is when your child learns most of their skills from walking to talking to eating etc. We at Parisi have made up a list of physical, fundamental and other motor skills that your young athlete is learning to learn for the first time while they are training with us!

Youth Ages 6-13 Key Development 

“Golden age of motor learning”- gross and fine motor skills, coordinationCognitive and physical changes= higher functional capacityGains in speed, change of direction skills, height velocity (jump, explode)

Youth Ages 12-15 Key Development

Relative StrengthLower body muscular strengthLargest change in height and weight

Young athletes are at the most effective window of opportunity to learn new motor skills and fundamentally develop. Once this window is closed, it is hard to re-open it and re-teach what has already been learned.

As a result it is crucial that youth are being taught these new skills correctly and that they are both physically and mentally healthy to learn. This is where the importance of recovery comes into play.

Recovery: A Developmental Key

Hopefully by now you have an overview of how much development takes place during your athlete’s youth. They learn just about everything during this time and as you probably know with your own kids it is very hard to get them to change their ways!

With all of this development occurring, recovery and rest is incredibly crucial for young athletes to ensure that this development is happening correctly.

After all, your child is learning for the first time how to use their body and how to move as an athlete. If they are exhausted and their muscles are worn down, they are not going to correctly retain and develop these new skills and movements.

Let’s start by answering a few questions regarding your athletes recovery needs:

How much rest is recommended?

 1-2 days per week is the general rule of thumb. 

What does “recovery” mean? 

Recovery is allowing the body to self-heal and become stronger after training.It helps the body from breaking down, overtraining, and becoming overworked.Prevents injuries by allowing the body to adapt to training and recharge

What can athletes do to recover? 

First it is important to note that recovery does not always need to be full rest with not activity.Lighter training sessions compared to usual (jog, light lifting etc.)Focus on different areas (ex: switch between strength and speed days)Rest- we all need it

While each athlete’s type of recovery day may look different, your young athlete may choose to jog to recover while another may do some light lifting, one thing is certain… every athlete needs rest!

Without proper rest your athlete may fall victim to the negative outcomes of overtraining and exhaustion.

To avoid this, look for the warning signs…

Sleep deprivationDecrease in training capacityChronic painWashed out, tired, drained, overall lack of energy

These are just a few signs to look for in your youngster who has been training hard every day and may have missed out on those needed rest and recover days.

Recovery Wrap Up

As we have pointed out, training and recovery are one in the same. In order for your athlete to train at their best, they must know when it is time to recover and recharge.

Young athletes are at the point in their lives where they are developing the motor and fundamental skills that they will build upon as they get older, stronger and advance in their athletic journey.

At Parisi Speed School, your child is receiving the best training out there. Your child’s fundamental building blocks are concrete not only because of this training, but also because our Certified Parisi Coaches understand the importance of rest and recovery for your young athletes success.

So, take a deep breath and know that your child is not only receiving top training, but they are also being given the most beneficial recovery methods, education on the importance of rest and developing and maturing to become the best athlete they can possibly be.

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