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Too Much, Too Soon: Overtraining Can Lead to Injury & Burnout

Too Much, Too Soon Can Lead To Child Injury and Burnout Too Much, Too Soon Can Lead To Child Injury and Burnout

​​​​Does your young child dream of becoming the next big Olympic star or pro athlete? 

While you might share those goals, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds parents to take a common-sense approach to sports training.

These days, it's rare to see kids outside playing basketball or choosing teams for a neighborhood baseball game. More young children are picking a single sport and playing all year. However, it can backfire.  

Early, intense focus can cause injury, stress, and a lost interest in sports. 

Parents also feel pressure to spend time and money on programs that are not proven successful.

Sports specialization is when a child focuses on only one sport, usually year-round. Parents and coaches are the biggest reasons why children decide to train intensely.

​What can parents do to keep sports fun? 

The AAP encourages an approach that will keep kids active and healthy for a lifetime:

  • Allow young children to play a variety of sports. Studies show that children develop best when playing different types of sports before puberty. They also are less likely to lose interest or drop out.

  • Wait until after age 15 or 16 to allow your child to specialize in a sport. Elite athletes who explored a variety of sports and specialized later were more likely to be successful, according to recent studies. Those who trained in one sport at a young age had shorter athletic careers.

  • Avoid sports injuries by not allowing kids to tr​ain more hours per week than their age. The AAP advises to rest one to two days per week and take at least three months off during the year in one-month increments from their sport.

  • Think about why you or your child wants to specialize. Is it for success in college? About 3-11% of high school athletes compete at a college level, and only 1% receive an athletic scholarship.

  • Keep an eye on your child's health. Growing athletes need more calories from foods high in iron, calcium and vitamin D. Teen girls should watch for problems caused by overtraining, like missed periods.

Kids and SPorts - How Parents Can Let Fun Win - HealthyChildren.org
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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.