With school back in session, young athletes may find themselves trying to balance the demands of their sport with their academics. The challenge is – how to prioritize the two and what to do when things feel out of balance?
“School always comes first,” says Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, sport psychologist with the UW Health Sports Medicine program.
Dr. Mirgain points out that participating in sports provides tremendous benefits for kids. Research shows that young athletes tend to have better grades, go on to college, are less likely to drink or do drugs, just to name a few. But it’s important to keep perspective as well.
Roughly three out of four families in the U.S. have at least one child who plays an organized sport, which is around 45 million kids. Yet, nearly 80 percent of those kids have stopped playing organized sports by the time they’re 15. Youth sports is a multi-billion-dollar industry these days, but participation in sports seems to be declining – by as much as 20 percent in some sports. While there is a lot of debate as to why any parent who has kids who participate probably has a few opinions of their own.
In gymnastics, the demand for strength, flexibility and
aesthetics – or form and appearance – combined with repetitive impact can be
taxing on young bodies and put them at greater risk for injuries and strains.
“The most common location of injury for female gymnasts is the lower extremity – ankle sprains and knee overuse injuries. Traumatic knee injuries include a cruciate rupture or meniscus tear” explains Jan Mussallem, UW Health physical therapist. “Male gymnasts tend to experience upper extremity injuries in the shoulder and wrist.”
It’s summer and the kids are out enjoying their vacation time. And for older kids, it may mean they’re enjoying a little more freedom riding bikes to get between friends’ houses or other places around the neighborhood. While you can trust them to get to the places they need to go, do they know what they need to do if an accident happens along the way?
Even from a relatively young age, kids should know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency (check out this fact sheet for kids on how to use 9-1-1). And, it’s important to stay calm whether it’s a small scrape or a bad spill on a bike.