The rising incidence of physical activity- and sports-related injuries has prompted the present-day investigation of resistance training as a potential means of injury prevention and physical literacy development among youth. Relevant studies on the topics of athlete development, physical literacy, resistance training, and injury prevention in children and adolescents were reviewed (PubMed and Sports Discus, 1982-2016). Recommendations from consensus guidelines and position statements applicable to resistance training and injury prevention in youth, in addition to young athlete development, were reviewed. Additionally, hand searches, expert requests, article reference lists, and gray literature were utilized and reviewed for pertinent content.
Youth throughout the physical activity spectrum are at risk for physical activity- and sports-related injury. Of highest priority are early specializers, physically inactive youth, and young girls, owing to increased injury rates. Resistance training among these at-risk populations has been shown to reduce injury risk by up to 68% and improve sports performance and health measures, in addition to accelerating the development of physical literacy. Recent recommendations, position statements, and national initiatives advocate for the incorporation of resistance training with qualified instruction among these groups.
Resistance training in addition to free play and other structured physical activity training can serve as a protective means against injury and a positive catalyst for the development of physical literacy to offset the impact of diminishing physical activity and early sport specialization in today’s youth.