When to start lifting

A little background on my 2022. He just turned 14, is a hair under 6’2”, weighed 165 around Christmas. He played JV ball last summer before 8th grade and fall after the school year started. He’s throwing FB at 71-74. 

For the past 2 years he has been regularly doing band workouts and just started the Jaeger program. This coming fall when he hits HS he will taking a weightlifting class with Asst. Coach. I’m considering starting him now to get a little head start on the fall. Other than the bands he hasn’t done any lifting, but is what you call “Country Strong”. 

Would you start him now, or let him wait until fall?

Original Post

My 13 yo 8th grader started lifting about 6 weeks ago, basic lifts that will transition to olymlic lifiting.  He has been doing driveline for 3 years and was doing well with the basic push ups, pull ups, squats and he was cleared by his doctor at his annual check up a few months ago.

D1catcher posted:

Start now and learn proper form, depth on squats, nutrition on how to bulk/cut, how to lift for hypertrophy and how to lift for strength. 

I started at 12 in middle school football. Got serious about it in college 

+1

Before my son went to high school, I had a trainer work with him on form and technique. 

Sounds like he has had his growth spurt, so i would say now is a good time to start. My 5'11", 140 lb. 14yo just started a few mos. ago. Some people I've talked to believe that you have to go light on the weights till after you've shot up. Make sure he also pays attention to his diet. Lots of good food, and by that I mean fruits and vegetables as well as protein. My kids have trouble putting on any weight, so I'd pack them huge lunches with healthy snacks in them that they can eat during the day. 

I started in 8th grade over at Cressey Sports Performance. I developed a great foundation and now I have a lot of knowledge and am able to workout on my own. I was around 5’4 and a half then and I am around 5’8 now so I wouldn’t say it stunts your growth. I just don’t have tall genetics. Just make sure the form is good so you don’t damage your growth plates or hurt your back.

Weight training really helps. Weight training leads to injuries.

Both sentences are true.

I know players - ranging from the first year of HS through proball - who have suffered career shortening injuries due to weight lifting. I watched my son pack on 20 lbs of well placed muscle without so much as a strain (in college). He started modest (when compared to college) weight training in 11th grade; I don't think it made a whit of difference in actual advancement of baseball skills; it did introduce him to what laid ahead and was, therefore, worth it. On the other hand, a weight lifting injury could have been disastrous. We had no clue on the risk/reward calculation.

Most coaches think they know weight lifting; most coaches don't. Football oriented weight lifting is different from baseball oriented lifting.

Pick out a conditioning coach the same way you'd pick out a PC. Not every former player can teach baseball skills; not every perfectly sculpted conditioning coach understands his trade. Pick wisely - an unwise pick can set your player back seasons.

(This is over and above every player's desire to show he's the strongest guy on the team. Injuries occur during these daily events at the gym. So, every lift needs to have an educated adult watching. All parents who have weight lifted (even modestly) can think back to their days of poor form just to set a new PR; teens are far more competitive, so just beware.)

One more thing. My son did the Jaeger long throw. He loved the circus stunt atmosphere of standing under one goal post and heaving it to the other goal post - in 11th grade. He did long toss several days a week essentially all year long while in HS. Never suffered an injury. But his friends who did the exact same program did suffer injuries. Once again, Jaeger is not a one size fits all approach - it works with certain arm slots better then other slots. Having two kids long tossing simulataneously will lead to the inevitable competition. Because the kids are maxing out, competition will lead to form breakdown and form breakdown leads to injuries. Once again be aware.

 

Thanks for the replies. 

From talking to a few of the older players, it seems the Asst Coach who runs the lifting class has a pretty good track record. It seems he has pitchers on a different program. This is a class comprised of only baseball players, so it shouldn’t be geared to entirely mass muscle gain. 

I do like the approach of finding a good trainer to teach him form before he gets there in the fall. 

As to the Jaeger concern. I meant that he’s started their specific band workout, not the entire long toss program. He does long toss regularly, but it’s closely watched for form. 

Goosegg10,000+ posts

Weight training really helps. Weight training leads to injuries.

Both sentences are true.

Goose is spot on.  I personally know of 5 high school baseball players who got hurt lifting at 13-16 y/o.  Some missed a few weeks, some a season, and 1 gave up baseball.  I spoke to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in young athletes.  He said he would never recommend lifting (didn't get into types or how much) until their growth plate decreases or stops.  We didn't let our son lift until he was a Sr.  For what it's worth though, at the end of Sr. year he led the state in home runs.  Was it because of lifting???  I hate playing "what ifs" lol.

Goose nailed it! I have seen far more bad then good training in HS weightrooms with most of those run by the sport coach. I have no idea why but it seems like every coach who has ever lifted weights believes that they are qualified to run a strength training program. As Goose and others recommended, find a reputable, well-trained performance training coach and have him work with your son on developing correct movement patterns such as the hip-hinge.

Once he starts working with the high school coach, see if you can get a copy of the training program or have your son take pics of the workouts. Then share with outside coach to confirm that it is safe/effective.

Disclosure: I have a grad degree in exercise science and have 10+ years of experience working with high school athletes in a high school setting.

Once again thanks for more great insight!

Like I said he’s almost 6’2” now, but we expect the vertical growth to continue. I’m 6’5” and there hasn’t been a male in my side of the family under 6’4” in several generations. Also his shoulder spread out so fast over the last 12-16 months that he has stretch marks behind his armpits. 

From what I gathered today, the coach starts Freshmen on all body weight exercises for the first semester. 

Trust In Him posted:
Goosegg10,000+ posts

I spoke to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in young athletes.  He said he would never recommend lifting (didn't get into types or how much) until their growth plate decreases or stops.

Ridiculous! Not calling you out but orthopedic surgeon. Again, it comes down to having someone qualified and experienced training young athletes. There are countless organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics who support strength training in adolescents. The whole growth plate thing only comes in to play in a poorly supervised or designed program...period!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445252/

https://journals.lww.com/jaaos...d_Adolescents.4.aspx

Regardless of when a young player starts weight training, any post-Little League player who wants to play high school baseball would be well served by developing the habit of doing three sets each every day of body-weight squats (all the way down, butt below the knees, good balance, slight pause at bottom), pushups (Google proper form), and either jump rope or dot drills. Once he can comfortably do 25 reps properly of the squats and pushups, add in burpees (again, Google proper form).  

You don't need a coach or a gym membership to do this. It will develop hip mobility, core strength, and agility needed to execute baseball moves with correct form. It will also make him able to profit from weight training when the time is right and a qualified coach is available.

Maybe the post should have asked when will lifting be beneficial for baseball?   In my opinion the answer to that is when he has hair under his arms and some fuzz on his face that needs to be shaved about once a month.  Then he will have enough testosterone in his system to change his body from lifting.  Prior to that time he's more at risk to hurt himself, although that is always a concern with improper supervision and technique.  Age 11-13 is where I saw the most injuries, and I don't think that it is a coincidence that that is when the body is changing the most.  So, my advice is to take it easy during the big changes and start the lifting when the huge changes are done.  Not all changes, just the huge changes. 

CaCO3Girl posted:

Maybe the post should have asked when will lifting be beneficial for baseball?   In my opinion the answer to that is when he has hair under his arms and some fuzz on his face that needs to be shaved about once a month.  Then he will have enough testosterone in his system to change his body from lifting.  Prior to that time he's more at risk to hurt himself, although that is always a concern with improper supervision and technique.  Age 11-13 is where I saw the most injuries, and I don't think that it is a coincidence that that is when the body is changing the most.  So, my advice is to take it easy during the big changes and start the lifting when the huge changes are done.  Not all changes, just the huge changes. 

Ughhhh.  It seems as if every time I make a comment in regards to strength training, you respond with this same comment regarding "hair under arms and some fuzz on face." I am assuming you are either a doctor or nurse based on your first hand accounts of injuries. I am really not trying to be a jerk but did you review the training programs and research the background/experience of the trainer/coach who supervised the injured player? I have trained countless young athletes in and out of high school setting, many of whom did not have hair under their arms yet or facial hair, and never had someone go to the emergency room or doctor with an injury that effected playing time or lost time training. We occasionally have muscle imbalances/strains but we work directly with a local PT and in most instances are able to correct imbalances in-house.

I would also 100% disagree with your comment regarding testosterone. I would recommend that you do a little research and you will quickly find that there are numerous benefits to resistance training pre-pubescent which include strength improvements. Additional benefits include: improved bone density, motor performance, and sport performance (direct result of improved neuromuscular adaptations and motor performance).

I have witnessed the strength gains in pre-pubescent athletes which is a result of  neuromuscular adaptations and does not require hormones such as testosterone. I think it is very important that we stop spreading misinformation regarding strength training for pre-pubescent children. Again, it all comes down to the quality of the training program and the individual supervising.

If you are reading this and have any concerns about strength training for your child, please...please do your homework. It is most definitely safe, effective, and has been shown to have a positive effect on performance via improved neuromuscular adaptations and motor skills. In addition, it actually helps reduce injury via improved bone density with  supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you need any additional support, please message me and I can direct you to numerous studies along with anecdotal evidence from those in the know. 

coachld posted:
CaCO3Girl posted:

Maybe the post should have asked when will lifting be beneficial for baseball?   In my opinion the answer to that is when he has hair under his arms and some fuzz on his face that needs to be shaved about once a month.  Then he will have enough testosterone in his system to change his body from lifting.  Prior to that time he's more at risk to hurt himself, although that is always a concern with improper supervision and technique.  Age 11-13 is where I saw the most injuries, and I don't think that it is a coincidence that that is when the body is changing the most.  So, my advice is to take it easy during the big changes and start the lifting when the huge changes are done.  Not all changes, just the huge changes. 

Ughhhh.  It seems as if every time I make a comment in regards to strength training, you respond with this same comment regarding "hair under arms and some fuzz on face." I am assuming you are either a doctor or nurse based on your first hand accounts of injuries. I am really not trying to be a jerk but did you review the training programs and research the background/experience of the trainer/coach who supervised the injured player? I have trained countless young athletes in and out of high school setting, many of whom did not have hair under their arms yet or facial hair, and never had someone go to the emergency room or doctor with an injury that effected playing time or lost time training. We occasionally have muscle imbalances/strains but we work directly with a local PT and in most instances are able to correct imbalances in-house.

I would also 100% disagree with your comment regarding testosterone. I would recommend that you do a little research and you will quickly find that there are numerous benefits to resistance training pre-pubescent which include strength improvements. Additional benefits include: improved bone density, motor performance, and sport performance (direct result of improved neuromuscular adaptations and motor performance).

I have witnessed the strength gains in pre-pubescent athletes which is a result of  neuromuscular adaptations and does not require hormones such as testosterone. I think it is very important that we stop spreading misinformation regarding strength training for pre-pubescent children. Again, it all comes down to the quality of the training program and the individual supervising.

If you are reading this and have any concerns about strength training for your child, please...please do your homework. It is most definitely safe, effective, and has been shown to have a positive effect on performance via improved neuromuscular adaptations and motor skills. In addition, it actually helps reduce injury via improved bone density with  supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you need any additional support, please message me and I can direct you to numerous studies along with anecdotal evidence from those in the know. 

Coachld, as often as I talk about hair under the armpits you bring up the words "strength training".  While it may be the correct term for your field what us laments call weightlifting are weights over 20 pounds and usually way more than that, and that is what the OP is asking about.  Do we want prepubescent kids trying to lift 100 pounds?  How about 50 pounds?  Half their body weight?  No.  Band work...all day long, no problem with it if you are 4 or 400.  Attempting to do weight training like the high school will do weight training....I think there is a reason they don't offer it in middle school. 

Coachld, I appreciate the comments and the links to the scientific studies. It was similar information that allowed me to evaluate the conflicting information on this topic and get comfortable with allowing my son to begin strength training before he turned 12. He has been training under the same professional trainer in a semi-private environment for the last 10 months and we couldn't be happier with the results. While the focus is always on performing the exercises and lifts with the proper form, he has been encouraged to increase the amount he is lifting as long as he is doing the exercises correctly. He has become bigger, faster, and stronger, which I truly believe has also helped him stay injury free. Our experience is consistent with your comments on the benefits of a professional strength training program

Age 15. We hired a personal trainer for 6 weeks to get good habits, form and understand limits.  Worked on understanding basic lifting vs baseball/pitching specific lifting.  The goal was to have our player understand his place in the gym so that he is not caught up in the high school stuff that can get out of control and lead to many of the injuries discussed.

Second we worked with the trainer to reinforce heavy core work and flexibility work and that if those two areas were neglected the weight lifting was a loss leader as far as time spent for a pitcher.  

Our player is a Senior in HS now and is very comfortable in his HS weight room and our family club.  He sees gains and has found his own routine and discipline...Does not take the place of bands, long toss...ect.  Primary physician and ortho were both fully onboard

In a look back we'd have been comfortable with him starting earlier but he wasn't ready to work with the discipline necessary to make it worth the risks.

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