The scientists discovered that parents that help their children specialize in a single sport might expose their kids to burnout and overuse injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises clinicians on how to address intensive training and sport specialization in young athletes. Another recommendation was to ban all national rankings and college recruitments before high school.
The scientists affirm that delaying specialization will minimize the risk of injuries and make the young athletes more susceptible to having a later success.
The current trend is to encourage children to specialize in one sport, to play all the year, and to participate in full engagement. The authors explain that this tendency can only lead to burnout and overtraining.
The paper complements several other studies from 2007 and 2014.
The recommendation is to counsel the parents, the children and their coaches to understand that sport should be a fun activity for athletes, and the main point is to elaborate physical activity skills that should last for the entire life.
Another advice is to participate in multiple sports, and then in late adolescence to specialize into a single one. The experts stress the fact that it will not be too late to start developing sports skills at that time. Moreover, late specialization will increase the likelihood of being physically fit all through their lifetimes.
Parents are encouraged to monitor the coaching and the training of their children, and to understand the best practices of the sport.
A break of one or two days during a week will help decrease the injury risk. Every year, the athlete should take three months off their specialization, during which they could try other physical activities.
Parents should also monitor the psychological and physical growth of their children athletes. They should also be careful with the nutritional status of their kids.
The researchers point out that there is little known about the effects of figure skating and gymnastics on later well-being and health.
The experts warn that the amount of training needed by athletes to achieve performance cannot be clearly established. Also, the programs that focus on conditioning and technique had not been proven to be efficient.
One of the conclusions of the analysis was that athletes that start intensive single sports activities at an early age also have a short athletic career.
Many parents want their children to specialize because of college scholarships or the perspective of being professional athletes. However, the chances are very slim, and the experts recommend parents to discourage such practices and to protect their children from burnout and injuries.
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