Make your kid better at sports by playing less! Kind of seems like a contradiction doesn’t it? This is the advice of renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews has seen enough. Enough of parents who think their son or daughter is the next superstar athlete and need to be pushed all year round. When Dr. Andrews first started he saw mainly professional athletes. Now, to his alarm, he is seeing younger and younger patients.
Dr. Andrews started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around the year 2000. He started tracking and researching youth injuries, and what he has seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board. He is trying to help these kids, given the epidemic of injuries that we're seeing. His mission now is to keep these children out of the operating room by focusing on injury prevention. Dr. Andrews started a prevention program he named STOP: Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention (in youth sports).
Dr. Andrews’ feels two things have lead to the increase in injuries. One is specialization and the other is what he calls professionalism. Specialism is playing the same sport year round. This leads to a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are professional athletes, in terms of training them year round.
All of this comes from the most renowned sports surgeons around. I, having been a coach for 15 years and having raised two boys in youth sports and now in high school sports, have personal experience with this. I have seen at least 4 cases of youth pitchers being “the star” on their youth team and throwing way too much during their younger days including playing all year around. All 4 of these “youth stars” ended up not being able to pitch in high school due to arm injuries.
I have a boy that is going to be a sophomore in high school and I am very involved with his innings (pitches) that he will throw in a season. I am also very involved in making sure he takes a few months off of not throwing at all before we start our throwing routine back up. My son threw approximately 80 innings between April and July. He is going to play fall baseball for approximately a 6 week period and we have made the decision he is not going to pitch just work on playing the outfield and hitting. More parents need to understand how important rest is. Too many feel that getting continuous repetition the entire year is what is best for the youth, however, that is not the case.
So to improve your child make sure they are getting the needed rest between seasons. Make sure you are involved with your ball player’s usage to make sure they are not overused to a point that could cause injury down the road. This is not to mention the fact it is good to let them just be a kid at times!