Is Your Child "Specializing" In a Sport?

October 15th, 2019

new study, published in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine on September 18, finds that kids who specialize in a chosen sport tend to engage in higher levels of vigorous exercise than their peers and may be more likely to sustain injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis and ACL tears. “But if we send out a message that says kids shouldn’t specialize, the worry is that parents and kids will just add another sport on top,” said study author Alison Field, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Brown University. “So they’ll keep their current sport and do it at a very high level and just add one more sport so they’re not ‘specializing.’ That would really increase their volume, so it probably would not be a good idea.” Instead, Field said the best recommendation is to moderate the amount of time young athletes spend engaging in vigorous physical activity — and if they must specialize in a sport, replace some of their training with different forms of exercise, such as yoga and conditioning. Field said a common fear among parents is that if their children don’t play more and more, they’ll fall behind in their sport and won’t ultimately be as good of an athlete. “But it may actually be the opposite,” she said. “If children do too much, they may get injured and fall behind. And it’s important also to remember that they should enjoy doing their sport; it should be something that doesn’t overwhelm their life.” In addition to founding Fitness for Health, a state-of-the-art, therapeutic, fitness facility in the Washington, DC, region, I have been a Certified Athletic Trainer for almost 30 years. I recommend that before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, performed by a doctor or a nurse practitioner or qualified clinician under the supervision of a physician. Whomever performs the exam, the same practices should be followed including the need for a medical history. Additionally, remind your young athletes to listen to their bodies.  If something just doesn’t feel right, tell them to let a coach know or tell you as the parent. Missing a few minutes of a practice or game isn’t the end of the world and may prevent serious injury. Would your child rather sit out a game as a precaution or miss the divisional play-offs because he strained a muscle? Sports should be an enjoyable activity and give your child the opportunity to learn value lessons such as teamwork, cooperation, and sportsmanship. Most of all, competition should be fun! Would your child like to have an athletic edge on the court or field this summer?  Fitness for Health offers athletic training and performance development. Most athletes only train to improve their speed, strength, agility and conditioning.  That just isn’t enough.  Our one-on-one and group children’s athletic performance development sessions help athletes at all levels develop the skills that give them an edge on—and off—the field, including gross and fine motor skills, mental processing and planning and visual motor skills. React faster, improve hand-eye coordination, think faster and up your game using state-of-the-art exergaming equipment.  Learn more today at]]>

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