Sports Schedules: Picture of Young Boy looking at his birthday cake

Sports Schedules: Is There a Safer Peak Number of Hours Per Week?

Wondering if your child’s sports schedules are putting them at risk for overuse injuries?

Have an injured child and thinking that too much sport activity may have been a cause?

Feeling overwhelmed as a sports parent and want to know when to say stop to all those hours of practices, games and different sports?

There is help- and it comes in the way of knowing the answers to 2 simple questions.

Sports Schedules: 2 Key Questions

Do you know your child’s age in years?

Can you remember the number “2”?

Those pieces of information can help you make key decisions that can reduce risk of overuse injuries.

  • If the number of hours of organized sport activity per week exceed the number of years of age of a young athlete

OR

  • If the ratio of organized sports hours to free play hours is greater than 2:1

Then there is a statistically higher chance of suffering a serious overuse injury.

That’s it.

Pretty simple and easy to remember.  Pretty easy to put into practice.

These simple decision rules can now provide evidence-based guidance to an area where recommendations were sorely lacking.

Developed by comparing over 800 injured 7-18 year-old athletes to similar aged healthy children. The study was conducted by trusted colleagues Neeru Jayanthi, Cynthia LaBella and their co-authors in Chicago. For more information check out Sports-Specialized Intensive Training and the Risk of Injury in Young Athletes: A Clinical Case-Control Study.

Sports Schedules: What exactly are organized sports?

Let’s define organized sports as any activity organized and supervised by an adult.

This includes games, practices, conditioning, speed training, weight training, and individual skill sessions. Probably fair to count technique and choreography courses, rehearsals, and individual skills sessions for performers.

Too many hours of organized activity (or lack of free play) can be common problems for kids specializing in just one sport.

However, playing too many sports at one time can also be an issue (spoiler alert: the multi-sport athlete is probably at lower risk)

Sports Schedules: Remember the value of unscheduled free play in the safe development of young athletes.

Letting kids call the shots and guiding their own activities is yet another simple thing to remember and put into regular practice.

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