PART 2: “Strength and Conditioning Advice for a Growing Teenager”

First of all I have realised that the importance of strengthening my core, improving my footwork in my fitness sessions with Holly ( and additional fitness I do at home by myself is vital. I have adjusted my programme at times to leave extra time for recovery and rest and to make sure I stretch out every day in the evenings. I feel I still have plenty of growing to do and I understand a growth spurt is considered to be over a two-year period and more. Here are Holly’s tips on helping a young athlete during this period…

“So, it’s been a whole year now since I started my ‘Sam Adventure!!!’ and what a fantastic one it has been. 12 months ago, I embarked on the challenge to help Sam through recovery and rehabilitation from HSP disease. We’ve had some downs, but the ups definitely outweigh them. Sam had a good doubles competition win to start 2019 with a bang.

To think 12 months ago when I started with Sam, we were doing barely 30 minutes of exercise sat down on a chair and mainly light stretches and mobilisation, being mindful of the pain in his feet and lack of strength in his body, and now we’re doing a solid hour. This combines a mixture of explosive strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, high intensity training, which includes boxing and plenty of agility, core and balance work. The list is endless. Not to mention Sam growing a total of 5 inches in the last year, which has thrown in some additional challenges. Growth in adolescence can have a massive impact on sports performance. Changes can help with increased muscle strength, body size and hormones which in turn can help with performance. It can also have a detrimental effect on balance and body awareness/control; centre of gravity changes as you grow, and the brain takes a little while to adapt to it.

It’s important to take into account that the growth plates are also vulnerable during times of growing.  Injury to the growth plate can cause bones not to grow properly. There is also higher risk of Anterior Cruciate Ligament damage during this time, so making sure Sam doesn’t overdo it is vital!

My top 10 tips for avoiding injury during adolescence:

Ensure a proper warm up is done before taking part in any physical activity – Sam has a set warm up routine that he carries out before training, any matches or competition and tennis coaching. This ensures that he has prepared himself mentally but also physically, so all muscles are activated and warm and he’s in the right frame of mind and focused

Good communication – listening to Sam when he feels a twinge or pain and getting him to rate how severe that is on a scale of 1 to 10. This allows us both to know his limits in terms of exercise intensity and selection

Exercise variation and intensity – every session is different with Sam and we ensure an overall body workout that is balanced between muscle groups and movements

REST – making sure there are periods of recovery is vital. The body needs time to replenish and repair between competitions, training and coaching. If I feel Sam has had a heavy week of training, we might simply complete a session of stretching, mobilisation and light core work, as more of a recovery session.

Hydration – making sure you take on enough water to rehydrate is extremely important. This helps to keep the body functioning efficiently and prevents any adverse effects; even if it’s cold the body still loses fluid so make sure to keep drinking!

Correct technique and form – this is one of the biggest areas I focus on during sessions.  Incorrect technique can lead to injury and instability. Sam is very aware of his body movements and as he’s got stronger physically, it’s meant his technique has improved massively. As you fatigue it’s very easy to lose form, which is why it’s so important for me to keep correcting this

Recognising injury – this links heavily to the point of communication. It’s important to identify what’s an injury and what’s muscle fatigue. As you experience more of this you will become so much more aware and identify it correctly. This is definitely something Sam is learning more and more, and has given him more fight in his training and competitions

Listen to your body – when feeling tired and fatigued don’t push it. Your body is telling you that you need to recover and rest, which if you don’t could lead to injury or illness. In Sam’s instance this is vital to avoid relapse!

Eat a healthy balanced diet – Edin Sehovic will go into more detail about this, but having foods to fuel, replenish, recover and repair the body will help with performance. Sam has changed so much with his nutrition and the types of foods he eats. It’s great to have a weekly update from him of the new foods he’s tried, with great help from his mum Rachel, cooking him healthy and nutritious food (having tried and tested some of the foods she makes – he’s a lucky lad!)

Set yourself realistic goals – if you set something that’s far from reach you could be setting yourself up to fail, and more likely to push yourself too hard. Having a realistic approach to your performance will set you on the right track to succeed. Every child’s development is completely different and physical maturity sets in at different times for everyone. It’s so important to realise this and understand you can’t push your body past your limits.

Here’s to an awesome and ever improving 2019- you’ve got this Sam!!!”

Sam and Holly