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Youth Athletes: Part 1

The latest episode of Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports had a segment called “The Overuse Epidemic”, on the increasing number of overuse injuries among young athletes. This has been an issue for years and continues to be an ever-growing issue in the world of youth athletics. Many have written or discussed this in the past, but there are so many out there who still do not know or do not listen to the advice, and that is not ok.

Below is a preview of the segment. The full episode can be watched on Showtime Anytime, if you have a Showtime subscription through your cable or satellite provider. “The Overuse Epidemic” Season 2 Episode 11 and can be found at http://www.showtimeanytime.com/#/series/1003022′

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid3671166871001/?bctid=3863310951001

The problems:
-Adolescents playing too much of the same sport, or too many sports at once
-Continuing to play while hurt or injured
-Rushing back into sport too quickly
-Parents and Coaches pushing or rushing their children back into play

The results:
-Overuse injuries
For Example: Pains, shoulder labrum tears in high school, ACL tears – multiple ACL tears, re-occurring muscle strains, etc.
-In the end, all of these problems lead to less playing

Here are some statistics from a webinar ‘Preventing Little League Pitching Injuries’ by Mike Reinold:

The amount of Youth injuries is increasing dramatically each year. It is a problem and education is the key:

– 3.5 million injuries in youth sports each year.
– Majority are avoidable through proper training and awareness
– Since the late ‘90’s the amount UCL reconstruction (Tommy John) surgeries has grown 20%-25% in youth and high school athletes
– Any Given Monday – By. Dr. James Andrews

Baseball
– Up to 20% of baseball players between age 9-15 will have an injury. – 5% of those will require surgery or have to stop playing
– Youth injuries are estimated to cost $1.8 billion dollars in healthcare costs
– Over-use is the number one cause of injury – especially in baseball players

Neglect
– Parents and Coaches are neglecting education on precautions and the prevention of injuries, or if they have the proper knowledge, they are choosing to ignore it.
– For example, there are rules for little league that limit how many pitches someone can pitch per game, season, year, etc. (Study in Sports Health, Fazalare 2012)
– 27% of coaches admitted to knowing the rules but not following them
– 19% of coaches admitted to pitching a child with a sore or fatigued arm

– Find significantly higher injury rates for adolescents who pitch more months, more games, and more pitches per year
– Average more than 80 pitches in a game = 4x more injuries
– Pitching for more than 8 months per calendar year + 5x more injuries (Olsen AJSM ’06)
– Pitching more than 100 innings in 1 year = 3x more injuries (Fleisig AJSM ’11)

These examples were for pitching because that is where a lot of the research is, but it really can be adapted for any sport and any athlete that performs repetitive movements.

Baseball Picture

There is an issue when parents’ first question is: ‘When can they play again?’ And then that is followed up with: ‘I’m not trying to rush them. I want what is best for them, but when can they play again?’ ‘The team really needs him/her.’ ‘They have a college showcase coming up in which they must play.’ ‘I already paid for them to play this season (or for this tournament), they have to play.’ And so on.

Does a team really need an 11 year old to play? No, not at all. Is the money more important than the child’s health? No. A lot of people involved tend to fail to see the bigger picture, which is the future of the young athlete.

The percentages are strongly in favor of the athlete not playing college sports, especially on a scholarship, let alone making it to the professional level. The numbers are staggering:

-About 7.6% of high school male athletes play a sport in college
-About 8% of high school female athletes play a sport in college
-And these numbers are inflated by sports such as Fencing that is at 32%-38%

The NCAA has a probability chart for some of the major sports
– For example:
– 6.5% of high school football players play in the NCAA.
– 1.6% of those who play in the NCAA make it to the NFL
– 0.08% of those who played football in high school make it to the NFL.

For more statistics:
http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/probability-competing-beyond-high-school
http://www.scholarshipstats.com/varsityodds.html

The goal isn’t to say that youth athletes have no chance of playing sports as they get older or at the highest level, or that they shouldn’t even try. It’s important recognize that most will not have the opportunity to play at those levels, but they should be able to play recreationally, exercise, or be able to play with their future children without any issues due to over-use injuries or problems they accrued while playing sports as a youth. The overall goal for youth athletes should be health and happiness, not just for now, but for the future as well.

I get more into this in Part 2

– Shaun
Movement by Logan…every movement matters.

More than just the physical.