When should kids start working out?

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Kids today see a lot on television about athletes and their physical training routines, so it's common for kids to want to train the same way as their college and pro sports heroes.

Seeing a baseball player hit a home run, a football player make a touchdown, or a basketball player race down the court to make a beautiful lay-up can make a young athlete want to learn how to do those things himself.

To perform these athletic feats, athletes need to be in great shape. So a lot of kids are curious about when they can start training, and what things they should be doing to play their best.

While expert opinions vary about when a child should start athletic training, there are important factors to consider when gathering this information.

  • Use common sense. If your gut feeling is it's too soon for your child to work out, you probably are right. If your child isn't interested in athletic training, is at risk for injury, or doesn't have appropriate supervision and guidance, then it's probably better to hold off for a while.
  • Working out too soon can potentially lead to a permanent injury. Consider simple activities early on, like running, pushups, situps, or jumping jacks before going into more intense training, like bench pressing and squats.
  • Check with your personal trainer or pediatrician. The more opinions the better, because you will begin to see common advice emerge.
  • Dismiss the myth that "getting bigger" will lead to athletic success. Becoming a good athlete requires many things, such as knowing the basics of a sport, being focused and composed while competing, and having great discipline to get better every day. While getting in shape also helps, it is certainly not the only factor when it comes to athletic success.
  • Your teenager may become curious about performance enhancing supplements. Be sure to learn as much as you can about the supplements he may be thinking about. If you allow your child to use a supplement, be sure to have him or her under the guidance of a physician so that side effects and other potential complications can be avoided. I do not personally advise kids to use supplements, but since many of these products are "out there," families need to make decisions in their child's best interest.
  • Develop a gradually increasing, age-appropriate training regime. When your child is 8 or 9 years old, a little jogging and other light training skills are okay, and as he or she gets into the teen years, more weight training may be added. Again, check with your coach and other medical experts for their opinions, then make the decision that is best for your child.

More resources

Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360! The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development.

Dr. Chris Stankovich offers individual athletic counseling and team/league seminars. Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360. The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development. Visit drstankovich.com for more details.