Specialization and Injury
Youth sports offer an incredible amount of benefits to your child’s life – this fact is undeniable. However, with sport comes the risk of injury. Having a child get hurt while participating in athletics can be a scary experience, and it’s becoming more common in the current youth sport environment.
High-intensity training and specialization can result in high injury risk for young athletes. Specialization implies training year round for one sport at the exclusion of others. This is dangerous for young athletes because, in addition to causing overuse injuries and burnout, it can make it impossible for a young athlete to find balance in life.
Your child’s best interest and safety are first among your concerns as a parent. It’s important for you to understand the risks associated with specialization. Make sure your child understands them as well, and both of you can work together to prevent it. Proper conditioning, careful monitoring of training workload, and an emphasis on a limitation of constant year-round training are some ways you can work to prevent injury. Engage in dialogue with coaches, trainers, and other athletic administrators to voice concerns you may have and ensure that your child’s athletic and health needs are being addressed.
Perhaps most importantly, emphasis should be placed on skill development rather than on competition and winning – this reduces the likelihood of a burnout. Placing too much pressure on an athlete can cause a variety of problems, but reminding them that developing as Champions is the most important thing can alleviate some of the pressure of competition and help them refocus their efforts.
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