30 Jul Dangers of Early Specialization and Why All Female Athletes Need to Lift Weights
I left the skills world faster than you can say ‘overuse.’
My shift happened in 2013 when I began training in a performance environment and getting girls under the iron to build strength and the resilient shell that is their entire body. After studying Exercise Science in my Master’s Program while working full-time and training thousands of girls, I never looked back.
I saw injuries decrease, confidence soar, and capacity to handle the game multiply. Instead of hitting a wall, more and more girls entered high school with immense mental and physical strength, while their peers quit sport from burnout or were forced out of it from nagging overuse injuries and ACL reconstructions.
I sent girls to Division I, Division II and Division III programs that suited them academically and athletically. Of course, I cannot take credit for their accomplishments as I merely showed them this offbeat path, and they trusted me and executed everything I suggested.
However, even today, I still get skepticism from parents who are peer pressured by their neighbors, who are suffering FOMO “fear of missing out”, or the enslaved by the “don’t let your child fall behind” marketing schemes.
Deep down, parents know what’s good for their young girl, yet fail to execute what she needs. Anytime I have a new client come to me for training, 95% of them ask for skills training. There have been numerous times when even when I say no to tons of business, yet they still beg me to help their daughters work on sport specific work. If I am to do even an ounce of skill training now, I teach them if they are really struggling, then urge them to practice on their own time consistently.
The training girls do with me now is the most intense work that develops movement quality – balance, coordination and spatial awareness – then builds total body strength, develops speed and increases power output. I expect all of my female athletes to do the basics on their own, such as walking, skipping, crawling, balancing, and hanging from a bar daily, so when they get to me, they can execute the max effort work like heavier lifts, change of direction, and sprint drills.
Too much skill work doesn’t prepare them for the rigorous demands of their sports, nor does it prepare them for sustaining the most taxing actions in the game.Too much skill work doesn’t prepare them for the rigorous demands of their sports, nor does it prepare them for sustaining the most taxing actions in the game Click To Tweet
Come game day, girls risk being a step behind, or not playing aggressive enough, or pulling a muscle due to lack of strength and tissue durability.
Worse yet, they lack the cognitive ability – reactivity and field scanning and tracking – because they weren’t given new environments during the critical youth years of brain development, nor were they taking out of the same environment they get year-round from primary sport.
The skill work I was providing early in my career was not raising my female athletes’ physical thresholds to perform and sustain max efforts during high level competition.
Isn’t this the point of training? To put the muscles and energy systems under greater stimuli than the game? The day of the game shouldn’t be a struggle to survive. It should be the easiest thing a female athlete does.
The preparation is hard, but a female athlete does it to handle every cut, every sprint, every explosive effort, and to be able do these dynamic movements at max capacity until the final minutes of the game, without batting an eyelash.
She is so strong nothing phases her.