For most, it is accepted that injury in sport is a part of the game; a result of bad luck and a risk an athlete knowingly takes on by playing.
In youth athletes, it is further accepted that growth-related pain is a natural part of the transition from youth to adolescence and on to adulthood, again a normal occurrence, with not much to be done. The result is we have an “overuse injury rate” in youth athletes that accounts for between 46% and 54% of all sports injuries.
This statistic that does not include non-contact injuries (many of which are highly preventable, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears), or growth-related injury (again highly preventable, with the compounding stress of physical training and growth leading to an increased likelihood of growth-related problems).
Although injuries in youth players occur at an alarming rate they are seldom questioned, but accepted as normal, and “traditional” training practices are continually embraced.
Reality is, and sports science supports it, the majority of non-contact, overuse, and growth-related injuries are preventable. The good news is it is not so much science as it is logic, although it may push you out of your comfort zone.
In a series of up-coming articles, I will look to tackle some of the most common problems, misconceptions, and challenges that face the youth and adolescent athlete, parent, and coach.
The goal is simple, enable the players to continue to enjoy the game, stay healthy, performing at a high level, and to achieve their personal goals through increasing awareness of sports science and its practical application to training youth athletes.
Look for John Cone's article, "Consider the individual when planning practice," in Thursday's Youth Soccer Insider.
John Cone has a Ph.D. in kinesiology, an M.S. in Exercise Physiology and extensive licenses and certifications, including his USSF A. Dr. Cone is a USSF national instructor delivering sports science education on coaching licenses from the F license to the A license, and youth-specific Academy Director course. He was formerly the Director of Sports Science with the Portland Timbers in the MLS, and an assistant coach with Sporting Kansas City (nés Wizards). Dr. Cone has worked at every level of the game from youth through professional as a coach, and as a sports scientist. Through his company Fit for 90, Dr. Cone delivers sports science consulting, and player monitoring for performance, development, and injury prevention. Fit for 90 clients include the U.S. women’s national team, numerous MLS, NASL, NWSL, collegiate, ECNL and USSDA teams. Fit for 90 is the official player monitoring system of US Club Soccer and the ECNL.
1. DiFiori, J.P., et al., Overuse injuries and burnout in youth sports: a position statement from the American Medical Society
for Sports Medicine. Clin J Sport Med, 2014. 24(1): p. 3-20.
2. Shimokochi, Y. and S.J. Shultz, Mechanisms of Noncontact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury. Journal of Athletic Training, 2008. 43(4): p. 396-408.
3. van der Sluis, A., et al., Importance of Peak Height Velocity Timing in Terms of Injuries in Talented Soccer Players. Int J Sports Med, 2015. 36(4): p. 327-332.