This appeared in the back page of the Food & Life section of the Austin American Statesman, next to Health & Wellness Wed Oct 15, 2015
Sports variety helps kids avoid repetitive use injuries
Not long ago, seasonal athletics gave kids the option of participating in several different sports over the course of a school year. One athlete who knew that was the smart way to play it was baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. He was the first athlete in UCLA history to letter in four different sports in one year (track, basketball, football and baseball !).
These days, that’s nearly impossible. Many coaches claim that the only way for a kid to develop into a starter on a varsity team is to be dedicated to only one sport and make a commitment to year-long training. Ironically, that might just make it impossible for your child to play any varsity sport. Here’s why:
Young athletes who specialize in one sport run a 40 percent higher risk of a repetitive or overuse injury, such as stress fracture or tendon damage. Growth plates, areas of developing cartilage, as well as bones, ligaments and tendons, all mature at different rates. So while some parts of the arm might be strong enough for pitching regularly, the elbow joint might not be. Repetitive stress can cause it to develop abnormally and permanently interfere with functioning.
So, if you want your budding athlete to enjoy sports all through school — and as an adult — keep her or him safe from overuse injuries. Limit practice time; change up positions played; make sure your child plays more than one sport every year; take breaks between sports; and make sure fun comes first!
Also related; Should kids specialize in one sport