Introduction: With the growing concern over the health status of children in the United States, a solution offered by popular media and educational theorists alike is to promote the participation of youth in some form of regular exercise.
Objective: It is the objective of this paper to discuss the opportunities and challenges that arise when athletic opportunities for children shift from youth-led recreation to highly structured activities.
Discussion: Some generally accepted components of athletic participation will be explored. Points to be discussed include: biomotor skill development, the age of specialization, volume and intensity, psychological factors, the role of winning, and injuries and illnesses.
Conclusion: It is important for the coach or consulting physician to strive to be continuously aware of the demands of athletic participation, particularly at the entry levels. As with any activity, there is the potential for benefit or abuse. Pursuit of post-graduate education or a variety of sports certifications will serve to deepen the understanding of a sport’s demands and allow for a fuller, more factually-based discussion regarding the best path for the proper preparation and training for the young athlete.
Key Words: Children, sports, specialization.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher; click on the above link for free full text.