Tag Archives: young athletes

Play ball — but protect young athletes from overuse injuries

The rates of injury for baseball and softball are relatively low compared to other sports, but the degree of injury severity is relatively high.

To protect young athletes, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that qualified adults instruct kids on proper throwing mechanics, training and conditioning.

Adults need to encourage athletes to stop playing and seek treatment when signs of overuse injuries arise.

Dr. Mike Perlstein, AzAAP board of directors member, says that over the past 20 years, the range of sports available through schools and through city recreational departments for children of all ages to participate in has grown.

But as the opportunities for playing sports has increased, so has the perceived competitive level.  Often, says Perlstein, the difference between a select or competitive team and the corresponding recreational team has been blurred.

And as the competitive nature of sports has heated up, the pressure applied by coaches and/or parents to succeed can be stifling.

In reality, an extremely small percentage of student athletes continue participating in competitive sports through high school, college, and beyond, Perlstein says.

So, parents should take a step back and think about what else young athletes can learn from participating in sports. “ I feel the lessons involved in competition are important for kids to learn,” he adds, “but should be secondary to the more important in lessons of having fun and exercising.

Perlstein, who practices at  Palo Verde Pediatrics in Gilbert, recommends that patients and their families avoid hyper specializing in any given sport until at least age 12.  “Experiencing a broad range of sporting activities, and developing different skill sets focusing on different muscle groups, is very important.”

Perlstein says that helps kids to develop in to well-rounded athletes and avoid overuse injuries. Which is important at any age — but especially in those younger athletes who have not yet reached puberty.

Overuse injuries, by definition, are almost all preventable, according to Perlstein. And the list of significant injuries documented in today’s young athletes continues to grow.

That is a source of frustration, he adds, because many of these injuries could be minimized or prevented with appropriate training strategies.

“Physical stresses on the pre-pubertal body need to be managed differently than in an athlete with a fully mature body,” he says. “For example, I do not recommend weight training with free weights until the student athlete is well into pubertal development.”

Repetitive activities, especially in relation to the upper arm, such as involved in tennis, swimming, and baseball/softball  need to be managed closely.  “Student athletes, their coaches, and their families all need to listen to the student athlete and for potential signs or symptoms of possible evolving overuse injuries.”

Have a young athlete with a single sport interest? Here are Perlstein’s recommendations:

  • Make sure the child continues to enjoy the activity, and is not simply feeling the pressure to continue.
  •  Spend intermittent time away from the sport to allow their body time to heal and to “re-charge their battery”.
  • Follow up with a sports medicine trained staff to watch for evidence of physical stress or imbalance in their flexibility or strength to avoid overuse injuries.

Not everyone may know exactly when an athlete begins to show signs of overuse, says Stephen Rice, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the AAP policy statement. “But it is important to know to never pitch when one’s arm is tired or sore. Athletes must respect the limits imposed on throwing, including pitch counts and rest periods.”

Additional AAP recommendations for young athletes include:

  • All players should wear appropriate protective gear to avoid injury. Polycarbonate eye protection or metal cages on helmets should be worn when batting.
  • Coaches should be prepared to call 911 and have rapid access to an automated external defibrillator if a player experiences cardiac arrest or related medical condition.
  • All coaches and officials should be aware of extreme weather conditions (heat, lightning) and postpone or cancel games if conditions worsen and players are at risk.
  • Not all children will develop at the same rate, so repeated instruction and practice are essential for young baseball and softball players to acquire basic skills when learning the fundamentals of the game.

RAK Archives:

Strength training for teens

Twitter chat with Cardon Children’s Medical Center sports medicine specialist Udall Hunt, MD

What you can learn from training the best: A conversation with veteran strength and conditioning coach Tim McClellan


Boxing: unsafe for kids

Amateur boxers are at serious risk of face and brain injuries, including concussion, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, which announced today that it will recommend that pediatricians discourage the sport for kids.

“We want children and teens to actively pursue sport and recreation, but boxing is not a good option,” said Claire LeBlanc, MD, FAAP, co-author of the new position statement and chair of the CPS Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee. “We recommend young people participate in sports where the prime focus is not deliberate blows to the head.”

We’ve come a long way in protecting kids from head injuries. Boxing was wildly popular in the 1920’s among both adults and even very young children:


But of course now know that children are far more vulnerable to concussion, and that recovery takes longer than it may for adults. Even though amateur boxers today may wear safety gear, there’s still no evidence to show that head guards actually reduce the incidence of concussions.

“While most sports have some risk of injury, boxing is especially dangerous because these athletes are rewarded for dedicated and deliberate hits to their opponent’s head,” said Dr. LeBlanc.

The announcement comes at a time when experts are taking a closer look at the incidence of head injuries among youth participants in contact sports.

New research from sports medicine specialists at A.T. Still University (ATSU)  in Mesa found that the establishment of a baseline for each youth athlete before participation begins is key when it comes to concussion assessment down the road.

A new sideline assessment tool, the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool-2 (SCAT-2) developed at ATSU, may provide a more accurate way to diagnose a concussion quickly after an injury occurs. SCAT-2 was tested on students from 15 high schools in the Phoenix area.

Researchers found that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to determining whether an athlete is ready to return to play.

Gender can make a difference, as well as whether the athlete has had a concussion in the past. Find out more about baseline testing, or participating in an ATSU concussion study.




Sports physicals: Free in Tempe on Saturday

Got a young athlete who needs a sports physical?

Physicals are required by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), the governing body of the state’s high school sports. AIA regulations dictate that

Courtesy CHKD

student athletes undergo physical examinations on or after March 1 of the preceding school year in order to participate in the next sports season.

Find out more about why kids need sports physicals here.

NextCare Urgent Care offers free sports physicals to the first 50 students who come to the NextCare office at 914 N. Scottsdale Road in Tempe beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 2.

The medical staff there will conduct about 25 on-site physicals on Saturday, and the remaining recipients will receive a voucher to return at his/her convenience for a free physical.

Also, those who attend through noon but aren’t among the first 50 attendees will still receive a voucher for a $10 sports physical that can be redeemed at a later date.