Dr. Nick Monson, sports medicine expert at University of Utah Health, discusses these findings and suggests simple changes you can make to get the most out of your athlete’s training.">

Mar 8, 2017 — When your child gets serious about becoming competitive in a sport, it may be tempting to dedicate all their time and energy to that one sport. However, recent research points towards the importance of cross-training in young athletes to minimize physical and psychological burnout. Dr. Nick Monson, sports medicine expert at University of Utah Health, discusses these findings and suggests simple changes you can make to get the most out of your athlete’s training.

Interview

Announcer: Need reliable health and wellness information? Don't listen to the guy in the cube next to you. Get it from a trusted source, straight from the doctor's mouth. Here's this week listener question on The Scope.

Interviewer: All right, this listener question is about youth specializing in a particular sport. This is from a parent who is wondering. They said that their kid just loves football and that's what they want to specialize in. So they want to do everything, the football camps, playing football. This parent doesn't think that that's necessarily a good idea and wants to know if that is the case. We've got an expert here to tell us. Nick Monson is a sports medicine expert here at University of Utah Health Care. Dr. Monson, what about this notion of kids specializing in just one sport, playing just one thing?

Dr. Monson: Yeah, we're getting just mounds of data on this issue. We're watching a lot of burnout in the younger athlete not only mentally but also physically. We have good evidence to show that we need to give a patient rest from a particular activity. Often for a baseball player I like to see three months where they're not out there throwing. That also means three months where they're not out there trying to be a quarterback because that's going to be the same type of motion that's going to cause that same wear and tear to their elbow or to their shoulder.

So doing a lot of different activities is what we were meant to do. It's how kids maintain that happiness and it's how they actually develop skills that they can translate into their sport of preference in the future as well. A baseball player should be able to enjoy swimming, or they should be able to enjoy playing basketball or picking up another outlet where they can maintain their health and their activity level but not causing the same overuse of their body.

Interviewer: Because it seems to me that the kind of common thought might be well if I want to get really great at this sport I need to really practice this sport. But, what you're saying is especially in kids if they do that they could actually hurt themselves.

Dr. Monson: Yeah, undoubtedly.

Interviewer: More so than an adult could?

Dr. Monson: Yeah. Well, you know, I think part of the problem is as a kid you're so heavily influenced by your parents' desires for what they want you to do. You're influenced by what you want to do at that age as well. But, you don't always have the best intuition as to what you're feeling or as to what is healthy or safe for you. So the parents play a very big role in that situation of helping mold their kids into the athlete that they want to be and that they foresee their child being as well.

You know, no doubt every parent thinks their kid is going to play in the NFL, and some of those kids actually do. They just have to make sure that when they're training and practicing and growing their abilities that they're doing that in a safe manner, which we know is done by not just one sport but in multiple activities.

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