Are We Over-Training our Children?

Kids_and_sportsI was taking to my neighbor the other day. At 13 she is a gifted athlete, especially in basketball where she plays in a league much higher than others her age. Right now it's volleyball practice, which happens from 9:30-1:30 everyday. That's 4 hours of practice 5 days a week for an entire month. At 13.

I think that's too much, even though its becoming the new norm, and orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrew agrees: " I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000, I started tracking and researching, and what we've seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board...

The crux of the problem seems to be specialization and professionalism:

Specialization leads to playing the sport year-round. That means not only an increase in risk factors for traumatic injuries but a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse.

"Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are pro athletes, in terms of training and year-round activity. Some can do it, like Tiger Woods. He was treated like a professional golfer when he was 4, 5, 6 years old. But you've got to realize that Tiger Woods is a special case... parents are hiring ex-pro baseball players as hitting and pitching instructors when their kid is 12. They're thinking, 'What's more is better,' and they're ending up getting the kids hurt."

He has formed a group called STOP Sports Injuries to better educate parents and coaches. His biggest message?  "Give them time off to recover. Please. Give them time to recover."

BTW, Dr. Andrews is so reknowned  as a surgeon that he was named one of the 40 most powerful people in the NFL by Sports Illustrated.