Celebrate Youth Sports Safety Month


According to recent research, specializing in one sport at an early age may not be what will make your child an elite athlete - diversifying participation in a multitude of sports and not playing year-round, as promoted by the STOP Sports Injuries Campaign, though, just might.

Recent research published in Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach analyzed articles from 1990 to 2011, looking for information about whether sports specialization actually helps or hurts kids. The researchers also utilized recent work conducted by the article’s lead author, Dr. Neeri Jayanthi, the medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Jayanthi’s research looked at injury rates in 519 tennis players ages 10-18 who spent, on average, 11-15 hours/per week training.  

Their results highlighted that kids who specialized in tennis were 1.5 times more likely to get an injury, regardless of their total training time. Performance was also investigated by the researchers and the studies illustrated that in sports like cycling, swimming, and skating, those who started significant training around age 15 were more likely to become elite-level athletes (defined by podium placings in European competitions and top-10 results in World and Olympic events) than their peers who started training earlier.  

“Kids often receive pressure from their parents or coaches to be the best in one given sport, when in reality participating in free play and a multitude of sports from an early age is the best strategy to create an outstanding athlete,” said William Levine, MD, Chair of the STOP Sports Injuries Advisory Committee.  

April is Youth Sports Safety Month and here are a few tips to keep your young athlete safe:  


  1. Have a pre-season physical examination and follow your doctor’s recommendations.
  2. Warm-up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises like walking or cycling.
  3. Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds.
  4. Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize muscle cramps. Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate properly.
  5. Keep an eye out for unsafe play surfaces. Playing grounds should be in good condition.
  6. Don’t play through the pain. Speak with an orthopedic sports medicine specialist or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries.
  7. When participating, wear protective gear such as properly fitted cleats, pads, helmets, mouth guard or other necessary equipment for the selected sport.
  8. Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries.
  9. Pay attention to weather conditions such as wet, slippery fields that can lead to injuries.
  10. Avoid the pressure to over train. Listen to your body and decrease training time and intensity, if pain or discomfort develops. This will reduce the risk of injury and help avoid “burn-out.”

More sports injury prevention tips can be found at: STOPSportsInjuries.org  


Monthly Messages are brought to you by the Tompkins County Youth Services Department, a proud partner of The Community Coalition for Healthy Youth.  

If you have further questions or comments about this message or would like information on how to become involved with the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth, please email ahendrix@tompkins-co.org

Thank you in advance for sharing this monthly message with your networks.


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