9 Tips to Cut Injury in Young Athletes
To Stay in the Game in the Long Run, Child and Teen Athletes Need Time Off
June 5, 2007 -- Young athletes may need a little adult guidance to thrive on
and off the playing field, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
The AAP's Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness notes that kids and teens
are increasingly involved in sports, and some young athletes are overdoing
Training intensely can lead to injury and burnout. So to keep young athletes
in the game, the AAP offers four practical tips for young athletes and their
parents, doctors, and coaches.
The tips, published in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics,
are as follows:
- Keep workouts interesting, with age-appropriate games and training, to keep
- Take time off from organized or structured sports participation one to two
days per week to allow the body to rest or participate in other
- Permit longer scheduled breaks from training and competition every two to
three months while focusing on other activities and cross-training to prevent
loss of skill or conditioning.
- Focus on wellness and teaching athletes to be in tune with their bodies for
cues to slow down or alter their training methods.
- Encourage the athlete to play on only one team during a season.
- Don't increase weekly training time, repetitions of exercises, or distance
by more than 10% each week.
- Encourage the athlete to take at least two to three months away from a
specific sport during the year.
- Athletes, players, and coaches should learn about appropriate nutrition and
fluids, sport safety, and avoiding overtraining.
- If the athlete complains of nonspecific muscle or joint problems, fatigue,
or poor academic performance, be alert for possible burnout, which may include
physical symptoms like fatigue and lack of enthusiasm about practice or
After all, if an athlete pushes himself or herself too far, he or
she may end up on the sidelines with an injury that lasts for weeks or
Pushing the Limits
The council also offers advice on marathons and triathlons, athletes who
play the same sport on more that one team, and athletes who play several
The council states that endurance events such as marathons and triathlons
may be fine for young athletes, as long as the events are modified to be age
appropriate, and the athlete is healthy and enjoys the activity.
Young athletes may be at increased risk of injury or burnout if they play
the same sport on multiple teams or if they don't take a break from athletics
during the year, the council warns.
Athletes who play several sports may be less likely to injure themselves if
their sports emphasize different parts of the body.
For instance, a golfer who is on the track team challenges different muscles
in those two sports. But a swimmer who plays baseball emphasizes the arms and
upper body in both sports.
Weekend-long tournaments may also bring injury, with athletes playing
repeatedly in a few days, the council members warn.
- Is your
teen athlete burned out? What do you do to help him or her recharge?
Join the talk on our Parenting: Preteens and Teens message board.