It is a common misconception that kids should not perform resistance training. Two specific reasons that people give to back up this claim is that the risk of injury is higher in children than in adults and that strength training will stunt their growth. Assuming there is competent supervision, this simply isn't true. Strength training for kids can lead to many of the same improvements that you will find in adults. However, there are some key differences that need to be addressed.
Resistance training in adults typically leads to what is called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is enlargement and growth of muscle fibers. In addition to this, there are also neuromuscular changes where the nerves that control muscle function begin to work more efficiently and actually recruit greater numbers of muscles fibers per contraction.
Resistance training in children is different, however, because there is very little hypertrophy. Almost all of the changes that children see with weight training come from neuromuscular factors. The transition point where hypertrophy can actually begin to occur in youth comes after puberty. This is true particularly in males due to the significant increase in testosterone levels. This hormone truly is key for gaining muscle mass.
Participation in a golf resistance training program will not only help kids increase their strength, but it will help with muscle endurance, posture, fat loss, and sport performance. It is recommended that children exercise 60 minutes per day. They get much of that exercise simply through playing with their friends, but if you have a young golfer in your family, getting them started with some basic resistance training can have effects that spread even beyond the game of golf.
Another important benefit of and exercise program will children is that it will help prevent injuries. Back, shoulder, wrist, and elbow injuries are very common in golfers of all ages. Anytime you can improve strength and stability in the muscle groups working on those areas will help protect you from breakdown or injury.
Whenever you are dealing with resistance training, there will be a risk of injury regardless of age. However, properly designed strength training programs combined with trained supervision has been proven to be safe, particularly in children.
I truly cannot stress this enough: whenever your child is involved in a golf resistance training program (or any strength training routine for that matter), please make sure that it is designed by someone who is properly trained and understands the differences between training adults and children. In terms of golf, look for those with a specific golf fitness certification either from the NASM, Titleist, Nike etc. Also those professionals holding a CSCS credential (Certified Strength and Condition Coach) with be very knowledgeable in how to properly work with kids. If you are planning on working with a personal trainer, it is imperative that you see their credentials. There are plenty of very good personal trainers out there but the issue is that there really is no standard to which their profession is held to. There is no specific education process and while there are some good certification programs (through the NASM and NSCA specifically), there are some where you just pay a fee and they send you a certificate in the mail without any sort of training whatsoever. Please do your homework first and make sure you are working with someone who knows their stuff!
*Information on this page adapted from the NSCA's Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning textbook.
Sign up for my Golf Fitness Tips E-Zine and receive access to my FREE report: The 10 Minute Golf Workout!