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With children starting to play sports younger and put under pressure to compete in schools and with county teams in GAA (as well with other types of sport), there is a risk of injury caused by overtraining. Because of these pressures, young players are feeling the effects on their body, as well as the stress this can put on their minds. Overtraining is when athletes are required to do too much. This can be both mental and physical. To avoid this, there must be a balance between encouraging our children to compete and not pushing them beyond their limits.
Pushing youths too hard will lead to sports injuries and exhaustion that can cause a burn-out when they reach adulthood. Symptoms like lack of energy, slower running times, irritability and increased apathy towards the sport may lead a trainer to push harder, but this will only worsen the problems.
The best steps to take when you believe a young player is being overtrained is to be watchful for these symptoms and to measure how many hours are going into training per week. Generally, young people and kids should not train more than 18-20 hours per week.
When building training speeds such as running and ball training, start slowly to prevent injury. Remember, young players are still growing and excessive training can lead to abnormalities as their body develops such as growth plate issues. A growth plate is the area of developing tissue at the end of long bones in children and adolescents. If injured, and without treatment, bones may not grow properly and this can lead to misshapen bones or even arthritis.
If an injury occurs with a player, do not ignore it, even if the youth believes he or she is okay. The trainer and parent are responsible for the welfare of their young, and all sports-related injuries must be looked at by professionals to ensure recovery.
We at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy see our fair share of young people suffering from musculoskeletal injuries caused by sprains and strain. Sports injury in a young person is as problematic as with adults and every injury should be given the proper care. If your son or daughter has developed an injury as a result of overtraining, then it is imperative to see a GP for severe cases and visit us for help and relief from our dedicated team.
Please contact us if you would like more information about this topic.