What Parents and Athletes NEED to Know to Prevent Youth Sports Injuries

Parents and athletes NEED to prevent youth sports injuries by being educated on the current best practices. Get a FREE evidence based handout.

If you have children who participate in sports, you know how high the injury rate is today. Many youth start sport specialization at a very young age training in one sport throughout the year. Parents and athletes NEED prevent youth sports injuries by being educated on the current best practices.

Research on How to Prevent Youth Sports Injuries and Sports Specialization

There are approximately 3 to 5 million young athletes participating in sport-related activities. All of these young athletes are at risk for sports injuries and the rate of injury is on the rise. This could be due to several factors such as: more intense practices, increase in game schedules, participation in multiple same sport leagues, scholarship opportunities, and pressure to perform.

When athletes specialize in one sport, the injury rate increases. Recent research indicates that when compared to athletes who played a wide variety of sports, youth who specialized in one sport were 81 percent more likely to experience an overuse injury.

Recommendations to Prevent Youth Sports Injuries

Current research recommends to prevent youth sports injuries follow these guidelines:

  • young athletes should avoid early sports specialization until puberty.
  • the number of hours of vigorous sports activity per week should probably correlate to the athlete’s age. For example, if the child is 12 years old, then the child should participate in 12 or fewer hours of vigorous sports during the week.
  • short breaks from specific sports are beneficial to allow overuse injuries to repair. This can be especially helpful for female athletes who will have time to gain weight, experience menstrual cycles, and possibly grow in stature.
  • young athletes should train no more than 5 days per week on one specific sport.
  • take off 2 to 4 months per year consecutively from the specific sport (dependent upon the sport and the position).
  • under supervision, resistance training can be a safe and effective type of exercise for prepubertal children and adolescent young athletes.
  • resistance training and endurance activities should be well balanced.
  • lifting light weights with high repetitions is the safest.
  • avoid ballistic or maximal lifting.

Download an Evidence Based Handout on How to Prevent Youth Sports Injuries

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Bell, D. R., Post, E. G., Biese, K., Bay, C., & McLeod, T. V. (2018). Sport Specialization and Risk of Overuse Injuries: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. Pediatrics142(3), e20180657.

Brown, T., & Moran, M. (2019). Pediatric Sports-Related Injuries. Clinical Pediatrics58(2), 199–212. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922818810879

Ertz, C. Does sports specialization lead to increased injury rates in youth? Retrieved from the web on 1/9/19 at https://notes.childrenshospital.org/sports-specialization-increased-injury-rates-youth/

Intensive training and sports specialization in young athletes. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Pediatrics. 2000;106(1 pt 1): 154-157

Mautner BK, Blazuk J. Overuse throwing injuries in skeletally immature athletes—diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015;14:209-214

Parents and athletes NEED to prevent youth sports injuries by being educated on the current best practices. Get a FREE evidence based handout.