Four Ways to Keep Your Young Athlete in the Game (and Guard Against Injury)

While for some “spring training” is around the corner, there are young athletes who haven’t taken a break since the end of their last season. More kids than ever are staying active in a chosen sport, and filling the time in between with lessons, private coaching, camps, and clinics. While dedication and practice can lead to a hard-earned skill set, many young athletes are at risk of burning out, as well as overuse injury that can have long-term effects. Here are some helpful hints to keep your kids healthy and on the field or court instead of watching from the bench (or avoiding it).

Encourage a Variety of Sports:
While you may be sure that your son or daughter is bound for Olympic glory or will shine at the World Cup one day, specializing too early in one sport can increase the risks of an overuse injury. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, research shows that focusing too much on one activity is risky – and can also lead to emotional stress that may promote burn out. The AAP notes that the parents and kids may have different goals, so be realistic about if it’s your child (or you) who is so devoted to the sport. By encouraging your child to try different sports and vary his/her sports throughout the year, you’ll lower his/her risk of over-use injury and also promote a healthy lifestyle.

Keep it Fun:
The AAP research showed that up to 70% of kids had quit organized sports by age 13. One reason that kids might give up a formerly enjoyable sport is that it became more stressful, more demanding, and less fun. By finding a good organization, team, and coach which prioritize fun, learning, sportsmanship, and athletes’ health, you’ll help ensure that your young player is more likely to beat the odds in favor of quitting.

Have Some Down Time:
Just like adult athletes, young athletes (and their growing bodies) need a break. The AAP recommends taking one to two days off per week, and one month increments (totaling three months a year) from their main sport. Your child can remain active in other sports during these breaks. Allowing your young player to enjoy being a kid is just as important as helping him/her grow in sports.

Pay Attention:
As a parent, no one knows your child better than you do. Pay attention if your child is complaining of pain that seems more than a minor ache or pain after a game or practice, or is favoring a body part noticeably. Also watch the league and coaching/training staff to ensure that your child is receiving appropriate guidance and care. The idea of “winning at any cost” isn’t really winning at all.

Physical therapy isn’t just for adults. At Body One Physical Therapy, we see patients of all ages and fitness levels. If your young athlete has been bitten by the injury bug, we’re here to help get him/her back in play. We’re locally-owned with five convenient locations serving central Indiana:  North Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers. We’ll help you keep your kids’ physical health and fitness a priority – call us today!