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How to Help Your Young Athlete Avoid Injury and Burnout

Did you know there are over 3.5 million children who sustain sports-related injuries every year? Fortunately, you can help your school-aged athlete avoid injury and burn out, resulting in a longer love of and participation in sports.

As a personal trainer and the owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., Coach Sarah Walls has worked with countless young athletes, helping them to reduce their risks for injury and avoid burnout. We reached out for her top tips so that parents can help their children be successful in sports.

  • Avoid playing only one sport. Being a multi-sport athlete will create a change in season, allow them to stay engaged without being bored, and help the body recover to avoid repetitive injuries.
  • Listen to their feedback. If the child is under the age of 14-15, they could express consistent complaints of fatigue or disinterest, which means that they would need a break. For athletes over 15, it may be more an issue of adjusting to using recovery methods. But in either case, these are initial signs of an athlete who is becoming burnt out. This needs to be addressed so they can come back to the sport in a more refreshed way mentally and physically.
  • Stress a healthy lifestyle. Encourage young athletes to get plenty of sleep; follow age-recommended guidelines for a pediatrician. Also, encourage healthy eating habits to help them feel better, recover faster, keep their mind fresh, etc.
  • Keep it fun and enjoyable. Trying to deemphasize competitiveness if they are feeling burnt out. Look at overall communication over the sport; shift the focus on being fun not as much competition.
  • Focus more on strength. Engage in strength training to reduce risk of injury, increase recovery time, and come back to the sport stronger so they can be better and have more fun. A research study published in 2017 in the journal Sports Health reported that overuse injuries are preventable, and that muscular imbalances after accelerated growth periods predispose young athletes to overuse injuries. They recommend modifiable risk factors such as flexibility, strength, and training volume should be regularly monitored to help prevent the injuries.
  • Pull back on pressure. External pressures the high school athletes can feel from parents, coaches, etc. about to go to college and play could decrease interest, which would lead to a burnout.
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