Kids are starting to play sports at a young age these days. Thing is, sports practice and competitions have all become too intense for them. Of course, we can’t deny the benefits kids get from playing sports, but there’s also a lot of pressure in youth sports to play in more professional leagues.

The younger, the better

sports practice
[ Image credits: Tom Dibble's Flickr ]

Nowadays, we can see children who are only 5 years old being picked to be coached in a team that only has the best athletes out there.

The problem is that their training is of high intensity. Contrary to what many have been saying, Daniel Gould, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, states that children are not miniature adults and that this type of training would not be good for them in the long run, not physiologically nor psychologically.

Studies show that high intensity sports practice is not good for kids

There have been a lot of experts that have talked about the negative effects of high intensity sports practice, but most people didn’t took this in consideration because they had no proof to confirm their affirmations.

For example, this study shows that “Young baseball pitchers who throw more than 100 pitches per week are at risk for a newly identified overuse injury that can impede normal shoulder development”. Basically, stressing the shoulder of a young kid could potentially lead to serious injuries, like a rotator cuff tear.

This definitely sounds like something we should be worried about.

Billy Holtmann is a good example. He started playing baseball when he was only 4 years old. He was a pitcher and by the age of 20 he already had to retire because of a knee injury. During his carrier, he also had elbow problems and tore his rotator cuff.

Moderate training is in the past

Years ago, kids played many different sports and their training was not as intense as it is now. Today, many kids will specialize in a single sport and all of their efforts will focus on being the best player on the team. The risk of injuries and their repercussions is higher when the players are young.

Daniel Gould also said that, until the age of 14, no kid should specialize in any sport.

Decisions, decisions

This madness started out in America, where playing sports at a professional level was massively promoted. The parents were aware of this, so they started projecting it on their kids.

But the parents are under the radar here. They are the ones that get all the applauds for how well their kid is performing a certain sport. Nevertheless, a national survey showed that most parents are worried about their kids getting injured during sports practice, with some of them even wanting to keep their kids away from sports.

A good advice for parents in this situation would be to pay attention to their kid and learn as much as possible about what the best approach would be in this situation. Getting advice from several coaches would be a good idea as well.

The long-term health of kids is more important than the short-term benefits of winning championships.

What’s your take on this controversial topic? What would you do?