I recently attended an all day youth soccer tryout by the Michigan Fire Juniors for whom we proudly serve as the Speed & Strength Consultants. It was a fabulous event, well organized, lots of competitive spirit, and even more smiles from the young people we interacted with. This is what youth sports is all about.
For those of you who know me, you are well aware that I am BIG on building meaningful relationships with those I come into contact with. One of the best parts of my “job” is witnessing our athletes make their dreams a reality at events like this and meeting new people eager to learn about what we do. I know what you are thinking, there’s a “but” coming. Ever wonder how the phrase “nails on a chalkboard” could be personified? It’s rather simple; a parent will approach you, they will then inquire about training for their daughter, (just wait, the best part is coming) and they say something along the lines of, “I just don’t think she needs to be lifting any weights.” Kill me now.
I find it intriguing when parents will (unknowingly) tell me how to do my job. I wonder if they would put their .02 in when their dentist is performing a root canal? Allow me to put this issue to rest, here are my 3 reasons why female athletes must train:
Reason #1: Last time I checked, it’s still sport(s).
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. It does not make them any different because they lack a Y chromosome, steps need to be taken in order for them to be successful. Think of it this way, would you and I simply decide one day we would climb Everest? No? Why not? Well we didn’t prepare for such a feat! I rest my case.
Skill is not developed simply by playing more of the same sport. One concern of parents enrolling their daughter into a training program is that it is not “functional”. What the hell does that mean? I have no idea how to quantify “functional training”. If you want your daughter’s training to be as “functional” as possible, why don’t you just have her play her sport year round? Oh yea, that’s called early specialization, see Is it Wise to Specialize?
Reason #2: Injury Prevention.
Female athletes have a severely enhanced Q-Angle as opposed to their male counterparts. This can be attributed to females having a wider pelvis, shorter femur and increased genu valgum or “knock knee”. All these factors come together to form a “perfect storm” if you will, for an ACL injury.
Figure 1: Female and Male Q-Angles
Call me crazy, but I would deem it prudent to provide stability to the area in question so it is able to not only survive when put in compromising positions, but thrive. I hate to be crass, but you can either invest in your daughter’s health, success, and well being, or choose to pay for her medical bills. If it’s my daughter, I am paying for training.
Reason #3: Confidence.
The number one transferable trait from the weight room to the field of play is confidence. When any young athlete sees their body become more tone and muscular, feels themselves sprinting faster than the competition, and has more “zip” when she kicks the ball, I would bet my next paycheck that her self-esteem is going to skyrocket.
Having this new sense of invincibility can only bode well when the athlete transitions back to her sport. How do I know? I’ve been doing this for over 12 years, I’ve seen this movie before.
Now, I will be honest, we do not train a lot of female athletes at my facility. With a name like, “Freak Faktory” I can’t blame them. Having said that, we recently have signed a seventh grade soccer player, Sammy. She has truly been a shot in the arm, she has ignited a fire in me I did not know was inside. The best part about Sammy? She gets it, she loves the process of coming into our facility and preparing for the sport, rather than playing it nonstop. Sammy is special.
She is going to change the way young female athletes view training in West Michigan, I know it. My advice to young coaches who want to get more female athletes involved in training? Find your own “Sammy” and give her everything you got.