With the extreme popularity of kids’ team sports like soccer, swimming and basketball across Mount Pleasant and Charleston, it’s hard to imagine that according to national experts, there has actually been a staggering decline in youth physical activity.  According to Forbes Magazine, “In 2014 inactivity among children approached 20 percent and increased to 37.1 percent in 2015 according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.”  That means that in just one year, youth athletic activity has decreased over 17% and that “across all age groups 81.6 million people were inactive in 2015, contributing to a sedentary culture and nationwide obesity trend.” 

What is the reason for this decrease?  Forbes continues, “Many factors have compounded the decline in youth sports [including] the rush for kids to specialize at younger and younger ages has alienated a section of the youth population.” 

According to teamusa.org, “In some cases, athletes as young as 11 years old are being asked to sign ‘contracts’ where they commit to playing just one sport all year round. But the risks from this narrow-minded approach far outweigh the potential rewards, says Glen Mulcahy, a speaker with the Changing the Game Project. His organization has found that children who specialize in sports at an early age run a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation, and lack of enjoyment.”

And beyond burnout, the kids that are seriously involved in sports run the risk of physical injury.  According to coached.com, “Pediatric orthopedists have found that 50 percent of overuse injuries occur in young athletes who are trying to participate in one sport in a structured manner. One of the highest predictors of injury in children is early specialization. These children are 70 to 93 percent more likely to get injured than children who play multiple sports while growing up. The injury rates are greater for children who specialize early, with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, tendon or ligament damage, and knee pain.”

So what is the solution? The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has some great recommendations:

Age vs. hours: Don’t let your kids spend more hours per week than their age playing sports. For example, 9-year-olds shouldn’t be spending 10 hours a week at soccer practice.

Take breaks: You should have a day or two off each week and longer breaks throughout the year.

Cross-training: Playing other sports or doing other exercises gives some muscle groups a much-needed rest while developing others.

In fact, cross-training can actually make specialized athletes better at their chosen sport.  According to active.com, cross-training “prepares [kids] to be better at their sports and to show up at practices a better athlete.”  The article quotes Becky Freeman, a masterlevel trainer at Explosive Athletic Training, who states, “Flexibility and form are the first orders of business for the kids. Body weight exercises, springing and reacting drills, and weights follow. Freeman says personal training for kids is different than for adults and parents should make sure they find a trainer who has the training and knowledge to train kids and teens.”

DUFF has the perfect solution for youth athletes.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm, we offer group fitness classes for kids aged 6-13 that “incorporate sports influenced exercises such as jumping, hand-eye-coordination, and agility work as well as bodyweight movements and some strength type exercises without using external weights. We even introduce some gymnastic style movements which will get our kids ready for anything!”  Our group fitness class are perfect for those kids who have not settled into a team sport AND for those who need to diversify their physical activity.  We give kids the stepping stones to becoming life-long athletes, whether kids are on a competitive team or just looking for a jump start into a healthy lifestyle.

And for those kids over the age of 13?  We recommend that they join in our adult group fitness classes.  We have from 2-3 different classes after school Monday-Thursday as well as a 5pm on Fridays and 9am on Saturdays.  AND attending group fit classes with your kids is a great way to bond and get in shape!

Contact us at info@dufftraining.com if you have any questions or would like to sign your kiddos up!