Sunday April 9 2017
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Taking a Break

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As the holiday season approaches our thoughts drift to family gatherings, parties, and special events. It’s also a great time to take a couple of months off from soccer or any sport. Enjoy time away from your game, no matter how much you love it.

Spend time with family and friends, enjoy going to the movies or just hanging with friends. Maybe even play some other sports.

The great thing about soccer is it can be played year round; the bad thing about soccer is it can be played year round.

Playing year round without a break can have many negative effects on youth players including: lack of enjoyment, overtraining, negative parental influence, unfulfilled expectation, burnout (emotional and physical), and overuse injuries.

Signs of overtraining: slower times, deterioration in execution, decrease in ability to achieve training goals, lack of motivation to practice, tire easily, and irritability or unwillingness to cooperate with teammates.

Emotional burnout signs: depression, apathy, exhaustion (mental and physical), persistent injury or illness, withdrawal/alienation, sense of failure/low self-esteem.

Signs of Overuse: weakness, loss of flexibility, chronic pain, inflammation, swelling, and soreness (aching/limping) lasting 3 days or longer.

The first myth of any youth sport, including soccer, is that children should specialize early. Specialization leads to year round devotion to one sport.

“Children are encouraged to participate in sports at a level consistent with their abilities and interests,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics: Intensive Training and Sport Specialization in Youth Athletes. “Pushing children beyond these limits is discouraged as is specialization in a single sport before adolescence.”  

Further research by the American Academy of Pediatrics also maintains that child athletes who play a variety of sports before reaching puberty—and avoid early sports specialization—are “more consistent performers, have fewer injuries, and adhere to sports play longer than those who specialize early.”

Remember – youth sports are supposed to fun. There is plenty of time for seriousness later in life.

Special thanks to Tim McCoy, Director of Member Services, PA West