Evidence continues to mount that kids specializing in one sport too early will most always lead to both physical –and mental — burnout.
Recent findings shared at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons show that the current nature of youth sports in this country can be detrimental to a child’s health.
Multiple practices, grueling game schedules, chasing championships, select travel teams, and far-off hopes of college athletic scholarships are all common pressures associated with youth sports these days.
With good intentions, many parents tend to force kids into multiple seasons of a single sport they have talent in or show an affinity for, eager for it to lead to greater success later on.
This “specialization” is defined as engaging in one sport for at least three seasons consecutively during the year without playing any others (according to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine).
Overuse injuries (usually to the shoulder and elbow) which we see every day at Texas Orthopedics result when playing one sport and can cause a child to miss games, or even a whole season, when the same muscle and joint groups are xerted and maxed to the limit.
Stress fractures, tendonitis, and knee injuries like ACL tears are frequent also. Children’s young bodies and still-growing bones need time to sufficiently heal between each practice, game, and season.
In this particular study of nearly 12,000 young athletes, the most significant injury risk in boys specializing in a sport too early on (before age 12) are:
For girls, the greatest risks come from:
Our specialists recommend exposing your child to a variety of sports and rotating them through different ones each season. Also, don’t allow them to pick on sport to focus on until high school. When they are playing, pay special attention to any regular or nagging aches and pains that they have, and never let them play through an injury.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s sports choices, please contact us for an appointment.
(Adapted from The New York Times-Well)