Two parents recently brought an eight-year-old soccer player to my office for an injury. Fortunately he had a mild condition related to overuse that would resolve with some rest and some daily exercise. The parents then informed me that taking some time to rest was not an option since the boy was supposed to play in tournaments throughout the eastern United States every weekend for the next three months.
An adult athlete’s body cannot withstand the same physical stresses day after day without rest. A growing child lacks the muscle strength of older adults and even adolescents. They need even more time to rest. Three months off from a year-round sport is critical, but kids need rest during the season too.
Daily practices and games take a toll on kids physically, and it can wear them out emotionally too. Give them a few days each week to rest their bodies. Allow them to catch up on schoolwork and spend time with friends. If your child worries about conditioning, let him lift weights or get cardiovascular exercise away from the sport.
Keep young athletes healthy, and keep them in the game
As kids get older, their bodies will develop, and they will mature emotionally. They will be better prepared to withstand the time and physical commitments of competitive sports.