Protecting Our Youth From Sports Injuries
Injuries in youth sports are skyrocketing. Since about half of all injuries resulting from youth sports are related to overuse, we can prevent many of these injuries in the first place. What do parents, coaches and young athletes need to know to stay healthy?
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Make youth sports more about fun and less about winning
According to the Stop Sports Injuries campaign, 70% of kids quit playing organized sports by age 13. What can we do to keep young kids from quitting sports?
Concerns with early single-sport specialization
The benefits to kids from playing sports are numerous. When a child should transition from playing sports for fun to training for success in that sport has increasingly become a concern.
Kids should take 3 months off from their sport each year
All sports place stresses on certain parts of the body. The challenge for young athletes who play their one sport all year is that they keep absorbing those stresses to the same body parts over and over with no break.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Youth Sports Injuries
- +Is it harmful for young athletes to play one sport all year?
-Is it harmful for young athletes to play one sport all year?All sports place stresses on certain parts of the body. Which areas withstand those stresses depends on the demands of that particular sport. The challenge for young athletes who play their one sport all year is that they keep absorbing those stresses to the same body parts over and over with no break. Kids might not want to sit at home for three months, which is understandable. Let them play another sport or train in a different form of exercise. Make sure to choose one that stresses different body parts, though.
- +Can playing multiple sports improve performance?
-Can playing multiple sports improve performance?Playing a variety of sports help kids develop skills they might not if they only play one sport all the time. Plus, by playing a variety of sports, the child can really figure out for himself what sport he wants to play rather than the sport a parent or coach wants him to play. He might have more fun and avoid burnout.
- +What are some of the signs of burnout in youth athletes?
-What are some of the signs of burnout in youth athletes?It is estimated that roughly 70% of children quit organized sports by the time they are 13 years old. One of the most common sports-related reasons that kids quit playing is burnout. Sports performance changes, like inconsistent or below-normal performance or lack of motivation to practice or play in games, can suggest burnout. Emotional and attitude changes, like decreased energy level with daily activities, depression or anger, could be warning signs. Even health changes, such as slower recovery from injuries that should respond more quickly, could represent burnout.
- +What can we do to make sports more fun for kids?
-What can we do to make sports more fun for kids?It is time we stop pushing our kids to win at all costs. Youth sports should emphasize fun. Parents and coaches need to make fun, not winning, a priority. Our drive to win manifests in many ways. A youth baseball coach needs to win so that parents bring their kids to play for him, so he starts his one or two good pitchers over and over. A parent pushes his son to play through pain. The coach wants success on the field, so he adds more practices and longer ones. A parent pushes her daughter to train more outside of formal practices, at the expense of schoolwork and friends. Success in professional, college and high school sports does require hard work and commitment. On the other hand, a serious injury can derail those dreams. And they will never come true if the child quits playing sports altogether.