Practice makes perfect… but when it comes to kids’ sports, variety may be the key to great success and less injuries.
Sports are a great way to keep your kids active, fit, and is good for teaching them teamwork and discipline. Sports are great, but there could be injuries that come along with it. In physical therapy, we see many kids and young adults with sports injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that at least 50% of athletic injuries – mostly sprains, strains, and stress fractures- are from simple overuse. It is also possible some may have more serious injuries, such as concussions, meniscus tears, or broken collar bones. Research shows kids benefit most from exposure to multiple sports and forms of activity at a young age.
In an era of specialization, traveling teams, and year-round sports, it is easy to get caught up into focusing on just one sport. Professional athletes played a variety of sports when they were younger and believe being a multi-sport athlete contributed to their success later. Lebron James played football in his youth, and Michael Jordan played baseball and golf. 90% of first round picks in a recent NFL draft were multisport athletes in high school, and 224 of the 253 total picks were multisport athletes.
When kids are 8 or 10 years old and you give them options of sports to play, their body can get exposed to several demands as they are still growing. It is not just good for them physically, but mentally as well. Once kids reach their late teen years, then they can decide which sport to more focus on.
While variety is best for growing muscles, it is also important to rest. 1-2 days off for rest each week with at least 2-3 months off of an individual sport each year is good for your health.
Focus on skills development rather than structured competition. Less injury risk, because the body is moving/training in different ways, reduces the risk for overuse injuries. Developing fundamental skills early increases success and ultimately a love for sports.
At Fast Track Physical Therapy, we encourage parents to pay close attention to your young athlete’s complaints about aches and pains. While they could be simple growing pains, they could also be precursors of those over-use injuries.