Overuse Injuries often occur when young athletes are pushed by their parents, their teachers or their coach to be highly specialized in one sport at an early age. As kids get back to school, many of them will be lead to focus on one specific chosen sport only. Supported by their parents and their teachers, they will try to develop into great athletes. However a recent study in Pediatrics shows that athletes below the age of 18 who are highly specialized in one sport only have a much higher risk to develop overuse injuries and to ultimately quit sports.
Most elite athletes practiced several sports as kids before they specialized in one sport in late adolescence
Social pressure to develop kids into superstar athletes has led parents to believe that early sport specialization and more practice is beneficial for their children. While focusing intensely on one sport in an early age may give a temporary advantage to a child, it may sadly result in an increased risk for injury that ultimately may cause the child to miss time from playing or to quit. Additionally the idea that elite athletes started to specialize at a young age is a misconception. Studies show that most of them participated in multi sports in their early teens and only specialized in one sport in late adolescence.
In a recent blog Matthew Grady, MD, FAAP, CAQSM, a pediatric sports medicine Specialist in the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recommends that parents wait until a child is through puberty before deciding to specialize in one sport. He also recommends that a child doesn’t practice sport more hours than his or her age every week. For example a 10 year old child shouldn’t practice more than 10 hours of sports every week. Free play is encouraged and individual paid coaching shouldn’t be considered until later in puberty.
Read the complete blog here
Picture: Courtesy of Macdill AirForce Base