Repeatedly throwing a baseball as hard as possible is exhausting, and, if done too often, can be harmful. Following pitching rules, adopting the right workout regimen and allowing time to rest can help prevent a Little League pitcher from getting injured. …
The dream of playing college soccer was within reach. Emily had been working on her game since she was four years old, and at 16 was now co-captain of both her high school and club teams. Colleges were taking note.
Just three games into club season, Emily was on the field in North Carolina, running back to her net when she tore her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). She heard her knee pop, and knew immediately what had happened. “I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain, but that definitely raised the bar,” she says. Her mother Lauri can still hear her daughter’s screams from that day as she watched the event unfold from the sidelines.
Six months later, Emily is tackling recovery the same way she tackles life. “Emily is a go-getter,” says Lauri. “In school and in soccer, she works and works and works — she just never stops.” …
Even with the known risk of injury, football is as popular as ever among kids and teens. How can parents encourage their QBs-in-training to enjoy playing the game while staying safe? Dr. William Meehan, Boston Children’s Sports Medicine physician and director of The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention says the answer is clear: Follow the rules.
Meehan participated in the development of a new policy released in January by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) limiting contact in year-round college football practice. He says, these regulations “should translate to a decreased incidence of concussion.” …
Many parents recognize there are tremendous benefits to youth sports participation, such as building relationships with peers and coaches and developing a healthy lifestyle. But for some kids, focusing on one sport at a young age can be too much of a good thing.
Sports specialization — intense training for a single sport with exclusion of other sports — has become increasingly popular at younger and younger ages.
Researchers suggest this specialization period occurs between the ages of 6 and 12. At these ages, some common overuse pediatric injuries, such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and Osgood-Schlatter disease, are four times greater in sport-specialized athletes. Diversified sport participation promotes the development of motor skills and limits repetitive stress on kids’ growing bones.
This is why pediatric sports medicine professionals recommend athletes delay specialization until late adolescence (16 to 18 years old) to minimize risk for injury and psychological stress.
Here are some pointers to keep young athletes healthy and in the game.
Take part in recreational play.
It is important for young athletes to enjoy neighborhood games such as tag, capture the flag, kick-the-can, wiffle ball and other games. These keep kids active and promote healthy living. Performing movements that differ from a specific sport are more likely to reduce the young athlete’s risk of injury.
Even switching from ice hockey, which can focus on repetitive drills, to street hockey, which is recreational play, may lessen injury risk.
Take advantage of the off-season.
Usually there are a few weeks between the conclusion of one season and the beginning of the next. This is a great time to hang up the equipment. The athlete can focus on recovering, taking a few days off to rest and then working on some easy strength, flexibility and other modes of cardiovascular activity, including recreational play.
Participate in one sport a season.
Often young athletes participate in more than one sport a season. Before the ages of 16-18, youth should participate in a variety of different sports throughout the year and limit organized participation to one sport a season. Kicking a soccer ball differs from shooting a basketball and offers the body a variation in movement. This benefits kids because not only does the risk of injury decrease, but it also gives the athlete the ability to develop different motor skills.
Begin strength training.
Parents and coaches believe young athletes are strong from the sports they play. Sports develop strength to a certain degree, but a well-rounded strength program corrects imbalances and promotes proper movement to reduce injuries in sport. Ultimately, the stronger the athlete, the more likely she is to reduce her risk for injury.
A common misconception is that strength training means lifting heavy weights, but strength training can be as simple as a plank or a bodyweight squat. Any uniform exercise performed correctly with repetition that allows children’s muscles to respond and produce a movement will create strength.
There is no minimum age requirement to beginning strength training, but athletes should be able to follow directions and demonstrate balance.
Talk to a sport psychologist if your child seems stressed about sports participation.
A sports psychologist can be a great resource for an athlete to voice concerns about the mental components of a sport, such as preparing for tryouts, overcoming a tough loss and setting personal goals. Psychological stress can lead to an injury or burn-out. It also may result in some athletes quitting their sport at a young age.