Are Parents Doing Enough To Protect Teen Athletes From Overuse Injuries?

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Did you know that overuse injuries make up half of all teen sports injuries? It's a major issue plaguing youth sports teams across the country. By definition, overuse injuries occur from a repeated activity over time, such as throwing a baseball. If you're unfamiliar with this topic, you're not the only one—according to a new study, a majority of parents don't know ways youth baseball pitchers can prevent getting injured. Being familiar with safe pitching practices could be an important step in avoiding these problems.

For this study, a survey was distributed to the parents of 60 youth baseball players. Here are some surprising —and important—stats from the survey:

• 53 percent of the parents/caregivers of youth baseball pitchers are unaware of safe pitching practices to prevent overuse injuries

• 54 percent did not actively participate in monitoring their kids' pitch count

• 75 percent of parents/caregivers of 11-12 year-old pitchers said their kids threw curveballs—which are an advanced kind of pitch

• 16 percent of parents had no idea what kind of pitches their kids threw

• 49 percent of youth pitchers threw in more than one league at a time

The study's lead author Dr. Andrew Waligora says,

This research emphasizes the importance of caregiver participation in ensuring compliance with youth safe pitching practices. Despite the implementation and easy accessibility of safe pitching guidelines, a large portion of caregivers surveyed were unaware and/or noncompliant with these established recommendations. Given the results of this study, further measures need to be taken to improve both education and compliance. Injury prevention should be a multi-disciplinary approach that includes informing coaches, parents and youth pitchers about safe pitching practices.

Another strategy that can lessen the likelihood of these injuries? Not putting so much pressure on kids to succeed at sports, or forcing them to feel like they have to keep playing, even if they don't feel 100 percent. The focus should be more on enjoying themselves than overexerting themselves.

Share the tips below with your teen athletes! Also encourage them to check out the "Broken Athletes" story from the April issue of Choices.

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