The speed with which middle school athletes develop athletic skills varies greatly. However, the greater their level of early athletic development in certain areas, such as speed, the faster and more effectively they can build upon their athletic ability.
While sport-specific skills are obviously important to develop for young athletes, it’s especially important for athletes around middle school age to develop a wide foundation of movements and skills to ultimately become a “complete” athlete.
As middle school athletes get older and stronger, they still have the potential to improve their speed—however, the optimal window of opportunity to make the most sizable gains in speed begins to shrink as we age, so it’s especially important for middle school athletes to begin training for speed early on.
Why is speed training so important for middle school-age athletes?
Around middle school age in particular, young athletes experience a wide range of physical changes. This leads to big changes in how they move, how they perform in their sport, and how they feel about themselves.
It’s important for middle school athletes to have a coach who can help them develop their speed, movements, and strength while working through these changes. A customized training program can also help young athletes develop new skills, identify areas that need improvement, set goals for the future, and cultivate a positive mindset that leads them to long-term success.
During middle school, young athletes are developing at different rates physically, so it’s important for coaches to individualize training and focus on the areas that need the most improvement for each athlete.
For example, if a young athlete is very strong but lacks speed, the coach can focus on improving the athlete’s technique and working on explosive movements to help them develop more speed.
Athletes who are able to develop a wide foundation of movements and skills during middle school will be better prepared to deal with the changes that come with puberty. They’ll also be better equipped to learn new skills and improve their performance in their sport.
How Middle School Athletes Can Train for Speed
There are many ways to train for speed, but some of the most effective exercises are sprints, plyometrics, and weightlifting.
- Sprints are a great way to improve speed because they force the body to move quickly and efficiently.
- Plyometrics are also beneficial because they help develop explosive power, which is necessary for sprinting.
- Weightlifting can also be helpful for middle school athletes because it helps develop strength, which is an important quality for speed. While many people don’t immediately associate strength with speed, the two are actually very closely related. Explosive power is a key component of speed, and strength is a major factor in explosive power.
Overall, it’s important for middle school athletes to begin developing a foundation of athletic skills early on, as well as to develop a positive mindset and believe in themselves. Speed is a particularly important quality to focus on, and sprints, plyometrics, and weightlifting are all fantastic exercises to help improve speed.
Of course, the most straightforward path to developing speed, strength, and power for a young athlete is to join a customized, guided speed training program for middle school and high school athletes, like the Accelerator Program at Speed Mechanics.
By training for speed at such an early age, young athletes will be in a much better position to develop their skills and succeed in middle school/high school athletics, collegiate athletics—and beyond.