As a parent, I found the recent article in Sports Illustrated unsettling.  Some sixteen-year-old pitchers are throwing close to 100 mph in their quest for college scholarships and the dreams of professional play.  And they feel compelled to pitch in every big showcase event. In fact, they are pressured by various companies to do so.

The Ripple Effect

It starts innocently. We notice that our child has talent and we look for opportunities for them to have fun and get better. Other people start to notice our kid’s talent. Tryouts for more competitive teams emerge. Travel teams, club teams, tournaments, showcase events, lost weekends, lost summers creep in. And before we can blink our eyes, our kids are training as intensely as grown adults well before their bodies can handle it.

The Parents Responsibility 

Little league baseball is one of the few youth sport organizations that have taken bold steps to protect youth from injury through implementation of pitch counts.  In many soccer leagues, there are restrictions on when youth can begin to head the ball.  The Ivy League has decreased the number of full contact practices for their football players to reduce the risk of injury and concussion. These are all promising steps, but the responsibility still lies on us as parents to read our kids and help guide them toward safe and reasonable training and competitive commitments. Based on the article above, we cannot rely on profit driven organizations to act in the best interest of our children.

Dr. Richard Ginsburg
Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg is a clinical psychologist and sport psychology consultant. He is co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg also serves as staff psychologist in the Newton Wellesley Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department and is the director of Behavioral Health for the Boston Red Sox. Dr. Ginsburg offers a broad range of clinical services to children, adolescents and adults and conducts youth and professional sport research. He is author of the book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway, A guide to helping your child get the most from sports, organized by age and stage and has served as a sport psychology consultant for a variety of professional and college-level sports teams, including lacrosse, soccer, water polo and ice hockey at Harvard University. He is a member of the US Lacrosse Safety and Science Committee and provides talks and consultations nationally to youth, high school, and collegiate athletic programs. Dr. Ginsburg played lacrosse and soccer at Kenyon College, where he won all-conference and all-Midwest honors. He is also a former independent school teacher and coach. He lives with his wife, Teri, and their two children in Newton, Massachusetts.