Sport-Specific Competition: How Much is Too Much?

Posted in: Basics of Training

Off-season training and year-round training perspectives can be imperative for a youth athlete to maximize their athleticism and prevent overuse injuries. Performance training can serve as a means of “cross training” or training similar motor and physical skills that relate to a sport but are not the sport itself. However, this has a tendency to be misinterpreted as early specialization in one sport. If a youth athlete begins specialization at too young of an age, then their athleticism can be hindered due to developing imbalances.

To maximize health and performance, a certified professional must teach an adolescent the basic skills of athleticism. Proper instruction of basic functional movement skills must be learned at an early age. Unfortunately, this is not happening because youth athletes are playing only one sport combined with the cessation of physical education programs in schools. Youth sports injuries have slowly been on the rise, according to Dr. James Andrews who is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon. He believes this is due to kids being treated like professional athletes and playing or practicing one sport year round.

When a child follows a similar routine to a fully developed professional athlete, their developing bodies suffer under the stress of one specific sport year round. Dr. Andrews uses overhead throwers in baseball as an example and estimates that 60 percent of the athletes he operates on are high school athletes or younger. Dr. Andrews believes you need at least 2 to 4 months away from that specific sport, and you need to participate in other sports or a properly designed conditioning program.

Youth athletes are playing sports at a volume that does not correspond with the amount of time they have physically prepared their body, which leads to overuse injuries. Titus’ training methods reinforce and develop the basic movement skills and physical qualities that many youth athletes need to endure the rigors of their sport. These methods prepare them for the sport, which allows them to improve performance and decrease the chance of injury.

According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, school-age youth need to participate regularly in physical activities that enhance and maintain cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. While children and adolescents have traditionally been encouraged to participate in aerobic activities such as swimming and bicycling, strength training can also be safe and effective for youth, provided that appropriate guidelines are followed. Despite the previously held belief that children would not benefit from strength training or that this type of exercise would harm the growing skeletons of young lifters, current public health objectives now aim to increase the number of children and adolescents who regularly participate in physical activities that strengthen muscles and bones. Strength training can be an important component of physical activities to achieve those objectives.

During adolescent growth, the strength and flexibility of muscles, tendons and ligaments cannot handle the volume of repetitive movements due to only playing one sport. This high usage on certain joints exposes them to increased injury.

Titus Sports Academy has developed and implemented long term physical development programs designed to build well-rounded, physically balanced youth athletes, which ultimately reduces injury and improves performance. Along with providing year round training programs for athletes of any age, Titus develops proper programming for entire teams in a variety of sports.

 

Hyman, Mark. “A Children’s Crusade.” Sport Illustrated 7 June 2010: n. pag. Pioneering Sports Surgeon James Andrews Is  Again on the. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

 

Faigenbaum, Avery, Ed. D, and Teri McCambridge, M.D. “Become an Advocate for Sports Safety.” Strength Training Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

 

Cambria, Nancy; “Is it really a good idea for kids to play a sport all year round”, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Nov 17, 2013.

 

 

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