Faster, stronger, tougher, smarter are some of the words used to describe the modern athlete. For many, these traits are programmed into their psyche and forged into the muscles of their young bodies with ruthless efficiency. It is a process that seems to start at an earlier and earlier age as time progresses, and the high dollar demand for the next super athlete frenzies into a deafening roar.
The phenomenon of preteen over-training is so widespread; there are now many mainstream studies available all over the internet showing how detrimental its effects can be towards today’s youth. In fact, Dr. Lyle Micheli at the Children’s Hospital Boston even provided this study which included warning signs for over-training, Over Training In Youth Sports
Some of the major documented signs of over-training in preteens include:
• Lack of motivation to practice
• Getting tired easily
• Irritability and unwillingness to cooperate with teammates
Dr. Micheli goes on to explain that often times even when warning signs are readily apparent, it is a natural tendency for parents and coaches to push the child even harder when confronted those symptoms.
Dr. Micheli’s sentiments are echoed by yet another medical professional in an article posted to www.Active.com.
In this piece, Dr. Elizabeth Szalay, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Carrie Tingley Hospital goes into detail about the differences between preteen and adult athletes. She notes that while adults can push themselves to higher and higher levels of performance, there is a finite point in children which can’t be exceeded without harming what is known as the growth plate.
The difference is in the bone structure. While adults have fully matured bones, children have growth plates made up of cartilage cells capping the bones of their bodies. Too much pressure and repetition can often lead to injury due to the soft and vulnerable nature of those plates.
Contributor Cassie Dionne takes the argument against over-training even further in this article featured on BreakingMuscle.com.
Dionne challenges the reader to think of injuries as neglect because by definition, neglect is failing to care for something properly. She goes on to argue that damage done at early ages is not only affecting their overall athletic potential, but also their life in general.
In that context, and with the understanding of the enormous pressure being imposed upon young athletes by parents, coaches, organizations, and professionals it is incumbent upon society to take a more responsible approach to youth training.