As a Physical Therapist and an Athletic Trainer, I am constantly reminded about the dangers of repetitive and overuse injuries. I hear over and over at courses and through our professional literature about the rise of overuse injuries in youth sports over the last decade. We see daily evidence of this in our clinic. Over the last 15 years, the age of patients presenting with ACL(knee) and UCL(elbow) injuries has gotten younger and younger.
As travel ball teams, AAU teams, recreational leagues, school teams, and all-star teams give kids the opportunity to play a sport all year long and sometimes on multiple teams, the risk of overuse injuries goes up concurrently.
Youth team sports are meant to be fun, teach kids about hard work, teamwork, and give children a safe outlet for activity. For the vast majority of kids involved in team sports, it will never lead to college scholarships or professional level sports.
There have been some very useful guidelines set forth to prevent overuse injuries by many organizations that can apply to all team sports. Some of the more broad guidelines are not playing a sport more than 7 months per calendar year, and to be involved in a different sports each year.
More specific guidelines have been laid out for overhead athlete such as pitch counts per game and per week, for different age groups. Many organizations and leagues have implemented some of the guidelines, but it is still up to the parents to guide and help their children avoid overuse injures.
Let’s keep youth sports fun and safe!