Friday, September 26, 2008

Overuse, burnout and parents

I'd like to see this posted in every high-school locker room and middle-school gym in America. It's a set of simple principles for preventing burnout and overuse injuries in kid athletes.

These guidelines are reasonable. They make good sense. Yet they're violated every day. Raise your hand if you've ever nudged your child over the line (Mine's up. For details, see page 27 of "Until It Hurts").

The following list comes from a report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics titled "Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes."

-Young athletes should limit training in one sport to no more than five days a week, with at least one day off from any organized physical activity.

-Athletes should take time off from one sport for two to three months each year. Taking a break from a sport allows injuries to heal and the opportunity to work on strength training and conditioning to reduce the risk of future injuries.

-Weekly training time, number of repetitions, or total distance should not increase by more than 10 percent weekly.

-Focus of sports should be on fun, skill acquisition, safety and sportsmanship.

-Join only one team per season.

And rule No. 1.

-Getting caught up in making the professional leagues or Olympics is unrealistic. Children and adolescents train year-round on multiple teams of one sport often with the hope of earning a college scholarship in that sport or becoming a professional athlete, but less than 1 percent of high school athletes make it to the professional level.

Okay, hands down.

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