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SPORTS

Why Kids Should Play Multiple Sports Photo Submitted by Devyn Bender

Story by Lawrence Gunnells I love everything about amateur sports, from the competition, to the lessons in teamwork, to the personal growth I see in kids. But there is a trend in youth sports that carries with it risks that threaten the very participants for whom the sports have been created and organized. “Specialization,” or focusing on one sport all year long, can create problems that kids—and more specifically parents and coaches—need to be aware of. For all the benefits that specialization would appear to present, the risks far outweigh the perceived benefits. The risk of serious injury One of the rationalizations I hear for focusing on one sport is that playing another sport (other than the one the kid, parent or coach thinks is their “best” sport) is that they could be injured seriously. The fear, of course, is that an injury might prevent them from playing the sport that is their “ticket” to the next level. (More on that golden “ticket” later). According to several credible sources, there is a greater risk of serious injuries from “overuse” of muscle, tendon and joint groups when you specialize. Pick your sport (most commonly baseball, basketball, and soccer) and the risks are there for all of them. Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine says that 46% of kids who specialize in a sport suffer serious injuries that require reconstructive surgeries, as compared to 24% of kids who play multiple sports. Dr. James Andrews, a renowned sports surgeon, is a loud proponent of kids playing multiple sports. Andrews, who has gained notoriety for “repairing” athletes like Bo Jackson and Drew Brees, saw an 68 • VIP Clarksville Magazine | August 2019

alarming trend in youth sports injuries, starting in 2000, particularly in baseball. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Andrews stated that “almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse.” “The deal is, as sports physicians, we've all been amiss for years worrying about putting people back together and fixing things and new techniques. But we've largely ignored the real problem: prevention of injuries. Everybody now agrees that the time is right to keep these kids from getting hurt so often.” - Dr. James Andrews Dr. Michael Cain with the Clarksville office of Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance said the risk of overuse is much higher in younger athletes. “Adolescent and pre-adolescent athletes are at risk for overuse injuries as their bones are still developing,” Cain said.” In particular, baseball players are at risk for shoulder and elbow injuries. Tendons are susceptible to overuse injuries in anyone, but young athletes in particular as they need rest to continue to grow and recover. I would recommend to parents if they are considering specializing their child in one sport to include 3-4 months during the year of rest or general conditioning as the young athlete is not designed for constant yearround play in the same activity.” Top athletes play multiple sports If you think specialization gives you a greater chance of making it to the next level, you may want to look at the facts. Mayo Clinic surveyed NCAA Division I athletes and found that 88% played multiple sports as kids. Not coincidental is the fact that several successful college sports coaches, including Nick Saban of Alabama

Profile for VIP Clarksville Magazine

VIP Clarksville Magazine | August 2019  

Health. Beauty. Wellness. Adventure. Featuring local medical profiles, why The American Red Cross needs you, one of our new, favorite Nashvi...

VIP Clarksville Magazine | August 2019  

Health. Beauty. Wellness. Adventure. Featuring local medical profiles, why The American Red Cross needs you, one of our new, favorite Nashvi...