Coaching Children in Sport: Principles and Practice

By Martin Lee | Go to book overview

5

Skeletal growth and development

John Aldridge

SUMMARY

This chapter describes the patterns, mechanisms and processes of skeletal growth and development. The changes in size and shape from childhood to adolescence are outlined, and the anatomical mechanisms are described in more detail. Bone length is governed by the activity of growth plates and the maturation of bone is a result of ossification in primary and secondary centres within the bone. The effect of factors which affect bone growth, such as nutrition, hormones and mechanical stress, are described prior to a discussion of the effect of training on skeletal growth, body build and composition, and sexual maturity.


5.1 INTRODUCTION

A basic knowledge of skeletal growth and development is important in understanding many aspects of performance and ability in sporting activities at different ages. It is also the key to appreciating many types of injuries that occur in children (see Chapter 16).

Children grow at different rates at different ages and different children also develop at different rates, so there are early and late developers. Not only do children grow at different rates but there are also changes in body proportions that can put limitations on their ability to perform. During foetal life the head is relatively large and at birth accounts for 25% of body length. From birth to one year the trunk is the fastest growing part, whereas from then until puberty the lower limbs account for 66% of the total increase in height (Figure 5.1).

We are all aware of long-legged gangling youngsters at puberty who are rather clumsy and apparently lack co-ordination because of the

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