Too Much of One Thing – NATA Urges Parents to Limit Children’s Sports Participation
According to new recommendations issued by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, parents should reduce the intensity with which many young athletes have become accustomed to playing The New York Times reports, including postponing specializing in a single sport for as long as possible.
“Studies show that young athletes often see specialization as a prerequisite to advancing, [whether it’s] making the varsity team, earning a college scholarship or progressing to the professional level,” NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC said. “When athletes specialize too early, or engage in excessive play, they are increasing the probability of injury and reducing the chances of achieving their goals. We want to help athletes and parents recognize health is a competitive advantage.”
While these recommendations may be more stringent from those of other organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, they are not implying children stop playing sports all together. Dr. R. Jay Lee, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical thinks of them more as an “easy to follow list” of steps that will hopefully lead to the reduction of injuries in young athletes. NATA’s recommendations are also endorsed by Profession Football Athletic Trainers’ Society, Professional Hockey Athletic Training Society, Professional Soccer Athletic Trainers’ Society, National Basketball Athletic Trainers’ Association, Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers’ Society, and the NATA Intercollegiate Sports Medicine Council.
Check out the recommendations below, and view an infographic here.
- Delay specializing in a single sport for as long as possible: NATA recommends that children sample a variety of sports and refrain from participating in or training for a single sport all year round.
- One team at a time: Increased sports participation leads to an increase in risk of injury. Young athletes should only participate in one organized sport per season.
- Less than eight months per year: Young athletes should not participate in a single sport for more than eight months out of the year.
- No more hours per week than years in age: For example, a 12-year-old child should not participate in more than 12 hours of organized sports per week.
- Two days of rest per week: A minimum of two days off per week from organized sports and training to allow time for rest and recovery are recommended.
- Rest and recovery time from organized sports: NATA recommends spending time away from organized sport at the end of each season allows for physical and mental recovery while minimizing the risk of injury and burnout.