How much sport is too much for kids?

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We all want our kids to be fit, active and healthy. And team sport provides a great avenue to make this happen with a whole bunch of social benefits to boot.

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But when does too much of a good thing become a bad thing?

Like most things in life, too much sport isn’t a good thing and at some point injury risks increase and all the positives can be outweighed by negatives. So how do we stay on the right side of the line?
Generally, we encourage kids to participate in a wide variety of sports from a young age. But current trends tack down two different paths.
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Current Trends

The first is ‘Specialisation’ where kids find a favorite sport very early and participate in only this sport to excess. This usually involves multiple training and games per week or weeknight variation of the same sport such as oztag or indoor soccer to tp up their football addictions.
The second path we call ‘Everything’ where kids take on a wide variety of sports but also elect to do them all at the same time, with some taking on up to 4 different sports at once. This trend certainly ticks the box of gaining experience in a wide variety of skills but with a high training load accompanying this, the risk of overtraining injuries increase.
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Here’s what research tells us:

  • Higher training and playing volumes of greater than 16 hours per week significantly increases injury risk
  • Early sport specialisation leads to increased risk of injury and burnout
  • No data is present to suggest that early specialisation is needed to reach professional levels
So with all of this in mind, we believe that kids should be encouraged to take on a wide variety of sports from a young age. Having a favorite sport is fine but adding a secondary sport (which might change every year or two) with differing demands is a nice way to balance the ledger just so long as the total time per week of sport/training is under 16 hours. As kids enter their high school years, a well-balanced resistance training program becomes a way of developing strength for their primary sport and reducing the risk of injury with higher training loads.