Overtraining Young Athletes

October 26, 2016

In a recent study, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revealed that approximately 30 to 50 million kids play youth sports on an annual basis. As the number of children playing sports continues to increase, so does the competitive nature that drives many sporting events. Whether children or teenagers are playing hockey, baseball, football or basketball, they need to be taught the importance of training correctly. Above all, however, they need to be encouraged to have fun enjoying their chosen sport.

When Is Young Athlete Training Too Much?

Young athlete training becomes too much when a child no longer enjoys the activity, or his or her body is being pushed too hard throughout the year. Generally speaking, children should be encouraged to partake in youth sports up to five days a week. The other two days should be used to rest or try other activities. One of the ways to prevent young athletes from training too hard and damaging their bodies is to encourage them to play different sports throughout the year. For example, a child who plays lacrosse, soccer or any other running-intensive sport year-round is far more likely to endure a stress-fracture or other repetitive impact injury. Instead of playing lacrosse or soccer all year, the child might try skiing in the winter or swimming in the summer. In short, by playing different sports throughout the year, kids can avoid injury and receive the physical and mental break they need to recover, while still gaining the physical benefits of participating in sports.

What Are the Dangers of Overtraining in Youth Sports?

Young athletes who train too intensely often experience a variety of physical, emotional and even hormonal changes. The most common side effects of overtraining include:

  • Personality or mood changes
  • Constant muscle or joint pain throughout the body
  • A consistent state of fatigue that is not alleviated by sleeping longer hours
  • A lack of enthusiasm for completing sports and academic tasks
  • Increased injuries, infections and illness

In short, overtraining can cause excessive stress on a youth's body, which can lead to a number of short- and long-term health risks.

Can There Be A Good Balance Between Youth Sports Safety and Training?

While the thought of overtraining young athletes can cause many parents to stay up late worrying about the well-being of their children, there is some good news: A balance between youth training and youth sports safety can be achieved with a few key strategies. Youths can and should be encouraged to use the proper cross-training techniques. Cross training focuses on a variety of workouts, so that the same body parts and muscle groups aren't constantly stressed. Keep in mind that a focus on proper sport technique is paramount to the success of cross-training workouts. Youth athletes should also be encouraged to progress slowly. For example, a young baseball pitcher who works too quickly to develop his fastball is far more likely to destroy his rotator cuff than a pitcher who takes the time needed to strengthen her arm, chest, core and legs. Finally, parents and coaches need to help youth athletes remember that playing sports should be fun. The minute a sport stops being fun is the moment a youth is more likely to experience training burnout. Youth athletes are more likely to remember that playing sports should be fun when good sportsmanship is rewarded both on and off the field.

When It Is Time To Play The Game, Choose The Right Youth Sports Uniforms

Understanding the risks associated with overtraining young athletes will help parents and coaches create a fun environment for children of all ages to enjoy playing their beloved sports. When the time is right for a team to take the field, the athletes should be outfitted in premium-quality youth sports uniforms and youth sports accessories. Cisco Athletic proudly provides customized youth sports uniforms to young athlete teams throughout the country.

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