Keeping Kids Healthy

Here is a great article written by coach Kevin O’Neill.

Keeping Kids Healthy

As a parent of 2 rowdy boys and a Sports Performance coach who works with kids as young as 6 years old, it is great to see kids being active. Its doesn’t matter if its organized games, creative play, or running around the back yard. Active kids usually equal happy and healthy kids. That’s a great thing.

With activity can come everyday bumps and bruises. We recently had a checkup for my 3-year-old son, who is always bumping into things and constantly has bruises on his legs. One of the things our Pediatrician mentioned is that she loves seeing bumps, scrapes, and bruises on kids legs because it means they are active. While that does sound a bit cryptic, she has a great point.

While the activity for kids is a great thing, there is a growing problem amongst today’s youth and too much specialized activity. Kids who specialize in 1 sport are at a higher risk to sustain overuse injuries than kids who are multi sport athletes. Our friends at The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention recently shared a great USA Today article on the subject of youth sports and overuse injuries.

Here are a few important highlights from the article:

–       Overuse injuries to tendons, bones and joints can result from playing the same sport and performing the same movements too often, too hard or at    too young an age with inadequate recovery time.

–       Young athletes who played a single sport for more hours a week than years they were old — such as a 10-year-old who played 11 or more hours of soccer — were 70% more likely to experience serious overuse injuries.

–       Letting the body rest, adding preventive and strengthening exercises, and following proper technique are among injury prevention strategies.

So how do we keep our young athletes healthy? At Athletic Revolution, we focus on achieving this through a number of methods:

1)   Educate parents and coaches about the risk of overuse injuries. Explain that young kids don’t need to specialize and play a sport year round. Having a multi sport athlete will actually help decrease overuse injuries and also help prevent “burnout” that is so often seen in kids by the time they enter their high school years.

2)   Educate the kids on what they are doing. We are always talking to the kids about why we are doing something and how it will benefit them. This can be as basic as telling a 6 year the importance of a good athletic stance, as intermediate as telling a 11 year old the benefits of foam rolling and muscle activation, and as advanced as telling a high school athlete how the Olympic lifts will improve explosiveness and rate of force development.

3)   We rarely specialize. We work hard to improve our kids multi directional movement patterns and multi positional strength. The goal is have our kids strong and moving well regardless of the sport they play or position they are put in.  We rarely perform sports specific drills or exercises. A well-rounded and bulletproof athlete is our goal.

4)    We get kids stronger. Improved strength is a goal with all our kids regardless of age. Our 6 year olds improve their strength through bodyweight exercises. As our kids get older and mature, we progress with med balls, dumbbells, and barbells as they progress appropriately through our programs. Most all sports now are at the very least contact sports. Basketball, soccer, and baseball are all sports where contact will and probably should occur. Football, wrestling, lacrosse, and hockey are more collision sports with greater impacts occurring. Improved strength will not only help kids perform their sports better, they will help them stay healthy through this contact and collision. As an old coach once told me, “Its better to be the hammer than the nail”.

5)   We have fun. We make sure our kids have fun during their training at AR. Too often kids have fun taken away from them by coaches, teachers, peer leaders, etc. They are kids. Kids should have fun.

 

If you are a parent, have kids who play youth sports, or coach youth sports, the full referenced article can be found here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/06/injuries-athletes-kids-sports/2612429/ . It’s a good and informative read and I strongly suggest it.

 

Kevin O’Neill MS, USAW, CSCS, YSF-1

coach@athleticrevolutionsouthshore.com

Sports Performance Coach

Athletic Revolution South Shore

 

 

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