My 15-year-old son Nory, like many high school aged children in our country- is obsessed with the sport of soccer. When he is not playing it, practicing it in our front yard- he is watching his beloved FC Chelsea team play it on television. He spends hours each day researching his favorite players’ every move and of course playing FIFA. Somehow, he still squeezes in a demanding school and study schedule, sleep and 4 to 5 meals. And at just 15 years of age–he feels pressure. Pressure not just to make his high school’s soccer team (tryouts are next week); but once on the team to perform exceedingly well.
I am sure he has hopes and dreams–as many kids do– of playing in college (scholarships welcomed) and then one day professionally for FC Chelsea. But his single-minded, single sports focus may not be that healthy- according to a recently published consensus statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine which found that the “increased emphasis on sports specialization has led to an increase in overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout.”
Burnout and child injuries occur when the psychological stress of ongoing practice and play become so overwhelming for the child that they simply choose to quit the sport altogether. Studies have found that most kids who quit a specialized sport find some that there is a “time conflict” or develop an interest in other activities. Some will never play that sport again, while others will come back the sport later in life. And the evidence is mounting that sports specialization increases the risk of a range of injuries by 50% for high school athletes. These injuries include ankle sprains, knee tendonitis, and stress fractures. A highly specialized athlete is considered one who trains for more than 8 months a year for a primary sport, which is defined as a sport the student considers more important than any other.
A recent study of high school students in Wisconsin confirms the findings when 235 students, of the roughly 1,500, sustained an injury that was serious enough to take them out of their chosen sport for at least a week.
To prevent sports specific injuries the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying sports specialization for the majority of sports until after 15 or 16 years of age not only minimizes the risks of injury but also will lead to a “higher likelihood of athletic success.”Some experts feel that the single best way to avoid sport’s burnout and overuse injuries is to limit the hours of practice and playing time based on the corresponding age of the child. So for every year of life, there should be no more than one hour a week of playing a specialized sport. For my son, at 15 he should not play or practice more than 15 hours a week. Not everyone agrees with this conclusion. As some experts feel that training and playing – year-round only increases the amount of training volume and which does not directly correlate to an increase in the amount of injuries.
This body of data certainly suggests that student-athletes and their parents, coaches, and teachers should be aware of the stress both emotionally and physically specialized sports training and competition can have on young athletes. And to be on the lookout for overuse stress injuries to the spine, hip, knee, and ankle.
Hiring A Lawyer for Children’s Sport Injuries
An experienced personal injury lawyer makes all the difference at those moments when you need support and knowledge the most. Our Miami personal injury law firm, we understand that a good lawyer gives you peace of mind, which is essential when the personal injury case involves a child. Contact our Miami office for a complimentary consultation by calling toll-free at 1-866-597-4529, locally at (305)441-0440, or by reaching us by email at [email protected] or via SKYPE to arrange a confidential initial consultation.