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Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries in Kids and Teens

Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries in Kids and Teens

What do football Hall-of-Fame running back Jim Brown, baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Kofax and NBA championship player and coach Pat Riley have in common? They all played multiple sports. Jim Brown played lacrosse, basketball and ran track at Syracuse University; Sandy Kofax played basketball and baseball at the University of Cincinnati; and basketballer Pat Riley was drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys. These elite athletes are living proof that playing multiple sports in your youth can keep you in your chosen game longer and in better health.

And that’s confirmed by a study titled “The Effects of Playing Multiple High School Sports on National Basketball Association Players’ Propensity for Injury and Athletic Performance” that focused on 237 athletes. Researchers from UCSF found those players who participated in several sports before turning pro were less likely to have major injuries (25 percent versus 43 percent) and were able to play more years than even the best of their single-sport peers.

For parents of high school athletes, the message is loud and clear:

  • Encourage your child to play multiple sports.
  • Follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and avoid single-sport specialization until your teen is 15 to 16.
  • In addition, encourage your young athletes to take at least three one-month breaks from their sport during the year. They can remain active in other activities during this time.
  • Encourage young athletes to take one to two days off per week to decrease chances of injury.