Have you ever sat down with your children and mapped out their athletic schedule? Take out your calendar and write out how many times they practice as well as the number of games and tournaments they play. Do they take any days off? If they are choosing to play only one sport year-round, are they taking any time away from the sport?
Take a Step Back
While we know that specialization in one sport prior to puberty can be a risk factor for over-use injury, stress and burnout, we also know that training too many hours is also a significant risk to the mind and body. So, what are the appropriate steps we can take to avoid over-training?
The Dangers of Over-Training
First, we need to constantly monitor our weekly schedules. Do our kids play or train in their sport more than 16-20 hours? When you think about it, 20 hours of play breaks down to approximately 3 hours/day. This seems reasonable. But what happens when there are weekend tournaments? Some tournaments can take all day. Sleep is affected. Schoolwork is affected. Downtime is lost. Spontaneous play and time for friendship development outside of their chosen sport is limited.
The Parental Objective
Part of our goal as parents is not only to protect our kids from overuse injury, but also preserve their love of play. When their sports become their job, reevaluation of our priorities is warranted. We need to remind ourselves, “Do my children continue to enjoy their sport experience?” If we pay close attention, we might be surprised by what we learn.
This article was adapted by Dr. Ginsburg’s original posting on the US Lacrosse website.