PRINCIPLES FOR TRAINING PREPUBERTAL SWIMMERS
Bar-Or, O. (1996). Developing the prepubertal athlete: Physiological principles. In J. P. Troup, A. P. Hollander, D. Strasse, S. W. Trappe, J. M. Cappaert, & T. A. Trappe (Eds.), Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming VII (pp. 135-139). London: E & FN Spon.
A training program must take into account a child's health and well-being (short and long-term), unique physiological responses to exercise and training, specific nutritional requirements associated with growth, and a variety of psychological considerations. The team that prepares the child athlete must include the parents. This paper focuses on the physiological requirements.
- When calculated per cross-sectional area of muscle, strength is similar in children, adolescents, and young adults.
- Maximal aerobic power, when expressed as per kg body mass, lean leg mass, or total blood hemoglobin, is similar across maturational groups.
- Peak muscle power and local muscle endurance, both reflecting anaerobic muscle characteristics are lower in children even when corrected for body or lean muscle mass.
- As children mature through adolescence to adulthood there is a growing ratio of anaerobic to aerobic peak power.
- Children's athletic performances are deficient in power/strength events and less deficient in aerobic activities but in swimming there is a similar difference between children and adults in both sprint and endurance events.
- Children have a higher oxygen uptake (VO2) per kg of body mass compared with adolescents who have greater values than adults. A cause of these differences could be that children have a higher mechanical cost of locomotion due to wasted energy as agonist and antagonist muscles work against each other to a greater degree.
- Children recover faster following both aerobic and anaerobic activities.
- Children are less tolerant of heat and cold with core temperatures changing faster than those of adults.
- Undergoing training regimens similar to those practiced by adults, produces trained states in prepubescents.
- Children mainly improve in the economy of movement when training. The oxygen cost of activity decreases without any increase in VO2max.
- Prepubertal girls and boys respond to resistance training in percentages of improvement similar to adolescents and adults.
- Children increase strength without an increase in muscle bulk.
- Whether strength training improves sporting performances in children is still a debatable topic.
- A child's suitability for a specific event is rarely established prior to puberty and so a training regimen for a child athlete should be as varied as possible.
- There is no proof that specialized training in children will yield long-range benefits.
- There are no physiological or medical reasons why prepubescent girls and boys should not compete against each other, even in contact and collision sports.
- Children take longer than adults to acclimatize to warm (and cold) environments. Periods of adaptation should be longer and contain lighter training loads than those for adolescents or adults.
- Children should be encouraged to always drink above perceived needs to avoid dehydration.
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