How to Keep Sports Positive for Kids

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.

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Protecting Gymnasts from Injury

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.”

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Importance of the Off Season

Off-season training isn’t just for athletes with hopes of one day playing on college teams, or those competing at a high level. UW Health Sports Performance coach Alison Regal explains that most youth athletes can benefit – although how they approach it and the benefits they gain will be different depending on their age.

To figure out what’s best, it is helpful to understand the different developmental stages.

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