Resistance training for juniors has always been a hot debate, ask just about any parent or any junior footy coach and they will tell you that kids should not be doing weights or any resistance training at their age. They are probably visualising their nine-year-old child underneath a loaded up shoulder destroying bench press, or a back breakingbarbell squat while answering the question.
Anything that challenges your strength and muscles is a kind of resistance, whether it’s swimming, riding a bike, doing handstands and cartwheels, climbing, running up hills, even walking to school with a heavy school bag on your back are all forms of resistance.
Is there any bigger form of resistance training than the game of rugby league itself? Is there any greater impact on a young child’s body than the contact of a big tackle and the contact of being dumped into the ground?
The Australian Institute Of Sport’s Position on Youth Resistance Training
Having your child or teen training with body weight exercises and high volume weights is proved to be not only beneficial but also highly recommended by all governing authorities. The Australian Institute of Sport Strength and Conditioning Coach Narelle Sibte recently stated in an article for the Australian Sports Commission’s Sports Coach magazine that;
“The current position on youth resistance training is that a properly designed and supervised training program is safe and can help to increase strength, prevent injury, and enhance motor skills and performance.” (Sibte, 2003).
They proceed to recommend, that training should “focus on skills and technique” while “strengthening the big muscle groups, using free weight and body weight movements” with ” one to three sets of 9-15 reps” (Sibte, 2003).
This has always been the way that I train young kids and teens and I have yet to have any injuries. In fact, injury rates of the teams I work with significantly dropped, in particular, shoulder and collarbone injuries. Interestingly, Narelle Sibte also stated that “some would argue that failure to start resistance training before 16 may be detrimental to playing longevity(Sibte, 2003).
More information on the AIS’s view on weight training for preadolescent children can be found here: https://
Sibte, N. (2003). Weight training – Pre-adolescent strength training – Just do it!. 1st ed. Australian Sports Commission’s Sports Coach magazine.
Ausport.gov.au. (2017). Weight training for young athletes : Participating in Sport : Australian Sports Commission. [online] Available at: https://