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Train a Well-Rounded Athlete

March 27, 2014

By Jose Garcia

A group of girls sit on a bench while watching their team play soccer.

Athletes have always been idolized due to their strength, speed, competitiveness, and teamwork. In our sports-fascinated society, it is understandable to want our children to become the great athletes that we see daily on television.

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that younger children are beginning to suffer injuries previously seen in teenagers and adults. This trend suggests that younger children are suffering from overtraining and exhaustion, causing injuries that may ultimately lead to long-term consequences.

Just as children should have a well-rounded academic record demonstrating various skillsets, they should have well-rounded athletic experience, too. Set an example for your children’s physical well-being that allows them to value exercise. Here are a few tips on what you can do to support an active and well-balanced physical lifestyle:

Choose sports together. 
Prior to selecting a sport for your children to play, get their input on what kind of sport they would enjoy. Many parents make the mistake of placing a child in a sport the parent themselves like without considering what the child prefers. Not all children are the same— one may like a team sport (football, soccer, baseball) while another may like an individual sport (tennis, track, boxing).

Try a few sports rather than concentrating on one.
It is important for children to have different experiences. Playing multiple sports can help your children meet new friends and learn different techniques that they can apply to other sports. Additionally, it will help your children avoid overusing certain muscles specific to one sport.

Limit practicing to a few hours every day.
One may think that overtraining will create a superstar athlete, but the truth is that it will most likely lead to burn out. Even for a child who loves the sport, overtraining may result in the child viewing it as a chore and potentially disliking it altogether. More severely, overtraining has been known to cause injury, exhaustion, and stress on the body.

Eat healthy foods and rest properly when not practicing or playing.
Children need to know that a healthy lifestyle doesn't end when games or practice are over. They should know that the foods they consume will help their bodies regain the energy they spent and provide the fuel for their next practice or game. Further, children should also know that rest is equally vital. Teach them that proper rest will help them become faster and stronger.

Physical health is one of the core topics YOU Parent considers of most importance in fostering child success. By supporting a healthy, physical livelihood for your children, you are teaching the discipline and skills that they will one day use in other aspects of their life. However, don't push them to the brink of injury; rather, let them play and enjoy the sports they like at their own pace. Doing so will allow them to remain active for many years to come.

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