Given the contemporary epidemic of inactivity and obesity in American children, youth sports are thought to play a major role in improving a child’s health and welfare for his or her future. Not to discourage parents from enrolling their child in youth sports, but present-day youth sports has its critics and potential downfalls. Criticizers see these highly popular children’s activities as plagued by major problems. Concerns have been voiced regarding the highly competitive nature of youth sports and it is often argued that young athletes become injured or burnout as a result of excessive stress and pressure. Others believe that children are thought to learn inappropriate behaviors such as aggression or poor sportsmanship from their involvement. Also, a major problem is that if a parent is too involved in their child’s early specialization this could lead to dysfunctional parent/ child relationships. This article is meant to show benefits in youth sports and educate parents on keeping a child healthy and interested in youth sports.
Some of the many benefits of a child’s early involvement in sport and early specialization include:
Excessive stress, injury, being burnt out, along with other negative aspects of youth sport can be avoided. Here are some simple ways to avoid putting too much stress on athletes and creating problems.
Injury is another major concern. 48% of youth sport athletes have been found to have at least one injury during an athletic season. 65% of injuries in youth sports are minor. Males are slightly more prone to acute injuries such as knee and back pain; however females are more inclined to severe injuries such as ACL tears. Correcting muscle imbalances, improving weaknesses, functional limitations and movement; one can increase performance and reduce the risk of injury. Training two – three times a week for one hour can have a great impact on performance and injury prevention. The program must include these components: a warm up, flexibility, mobility, plyometrics focusing on change of direction, deceleration, and landing technique, strength training focusing on total body strength and also corrective exercises. The combination of these together can significantly reduce chance of injury. While also improving the way the body moves on the field or court, increasing force production and decreasing reaction time.
Just remember the reasons for your child participating in sport:
When these reasons are no longer being conveyed then take a step back and think about your long term goals and reasons for participating.
By Kevin Devine
Athletic Development Coach, Sports Medicine Institute