Back to Top Skip to main content

Advice to young athletes: A variety of sports is the spice of life

Children participate in a sports clinic at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The installation partnered with the YMCA of Pikes Peak Region to teach young athletes the fundamentals of baseball, gymnastics, soccer, and basketball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Wes Wright) Children participate in a sports clinic at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The installation partnered with the YMCA of Pikes Peak Region to teach young athletes the fundamentals of baseball, gymnastics, soccer, and basketball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Wes Wright)

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Physical Activity

Basketball standout Machaela Simmons planned to spend the summer before her senior year of high school playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball hoping to attract attention from college recruiters. But after injuring her knee in March while trying out for an AAU team, she had surgery at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Virginia. Instead of playing basketball, the 17 year old rehabilitated and underwent physical therapy. She also volunteered with the American Red Cross in the hospital’s physical therapy department.

“She met other injured athletes her age,” said Machaela’s mother, retired Army Col. Sara Simmons. “It seemed a lot of them played only one sport.”

Young athletes who focus on one sport instead of sampling a variety are more likely to suffer overuse injuries, according to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. It supports previous findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Orthopaedic Society. An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon because of repetitive use without adequate rest.

“Specializing leads to mastery of the skills needed for that particular sport, but playing a variety of sports improves overall fitness and athletic ability,” said Dr. Terry Adirim, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for health services policy and oversight.

“You develop other skills, and you’re not stressing the same parts of the body in the same way,” said Adirim, a pediatric emergency physician who also is board-certified in sports medicine.

Machaela and her older brother participated in several sports when they were growing up, including softball, swimming, and track. “I’ve always appreciated the different opportunities the military communities offer to children,” Simmons said.

When Machaela started high school, she decided to focus on her favorite: basketball. She didn’t experience any health issues until her junior year, Simmons said, when hip pain preceded the knee injury. PE class was no longer a requirement, and Simmons believes the lack of this diversified physical activity may have been a factor in her daughter’s injuries.

Burnout is also an issue for children who focus on one sport, Adirim said. Signs your child is experiencing burnout include declining performance in the sport and in the classroom, complaints about aches and pains, and difficulty sleeping.

“Kids may all of a sudden say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Adirim said. “Parents can ask them why, because there could be other things going on that have nothing to do with burnout.”

And for those who think specializing will help a young athlete’s odds of playing beyond high school, consider the young California boy who didn’t focus only on baseball, despite exhibiting tremendous skills in that particular sport. He also played basketball and soccer and at 14, added football to the mix. It wasn’t until college that Tom Brady finally focused on football, and started down the path of a hall of fame career.

Adirim said parents can encourage their children to try a variety of fitness activities, even informally. “I recommend doing things as a family, such as hiking or walking,” she said.

Simmons said her daughter’s love of basketball hasn’t diminished, and she’s made better-than-expected progress since her knee surgery. And while it may have sidelined some opportunities, it also was a valuable learning experience.

“It taught Machaela a great deal about the importance of physical conditioning,” Simmons said. “She’s now aware and focused on what it takes to prevent injury.”

You also may be interested in...

Children's Dental Health Month: What parents need to know

Air Force Senior Airman Caitlyn Hollowell, 81st Dental Squadron dental technician, prepares to take an x-ray on Katelyn Landolt. February is Children’s Dental Health Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Teaching children about taking care of their teeth can be challenging

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Rocky and Elmo want providers to "Watch. Ask. Share."

Defense Health Agency Director Vice Admiral Raquel “Rocky” Bono joined Sesame Street’s Elmo to record a welcome video for the new provider section of the Sesame Street for Military Families website. (Photo by MHS Communications)

How DHA teamed with Sesame Street to help care for military families

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Public Health | Preventive Health | Children's Health | Deployment Health

Heart Health Month: Stopping the number-one killer

Going to the gym regularly can certainly improve heart health. So can taking a walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster)

Learn about the small changes that can make a big difference in your overall health

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Heart Health

Cold and influenza season is underway – and it’s nothing to ‘shake off’

Cold and flu season usually runs from October to March, and peaks between December and February. Young children, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions have a higher risk for complications. Military Health System experts encourage everyone to take steps to prevent these viral illnesses from spreading. (U.S. Army photo by photo by Rachel Larue)

Military Health System experts share advice on how to prevent, treat, and distinguish between these two viral illnesses

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Immunizations | Children's Health

A new year, a new you: Take command of your health

The month of January provides a fresh opportunity to take command of your health and improve your physical and emotional health, job performance, and mission readiness. (Courtesy photo)

Meeting goals requires inspiration, commitment, action

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Physical Activity

Let’s get moving: Physical therapy from a provider’s perspective

A career spent in the infantry coupled with an active lifestyle led to 12 knee surgeries for U.S. Army Gen. Robert B. Brown, Commanding General of U.S. Army Pacific. Shown here (center) greeting soldiers at the National Training Center Fort Irwin, Calif., Brown credits an effective physical therapy regimen for getting him back in the field. (U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Spandau)

Two providers and a former patient share insight into the role of physical therapists, as well as the benefits of seeking help and committing to a program

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Deployment Health

Cancer vaccine for youth is effective, safe

The HPV vaccine is very safe, and most people don’t have any problems or side effects. Studies have shown the vaccine caused HPV rates to decline 64 percent among teenaged girls ages 14 to 19, and 34 percent among women ages 20 to 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High)

Experts share what parents need to know about the HPV vaccine

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Women's Health

Midwives expand women's options

Valerie Miller, nurse midwife, Department of Women’s Health Services, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, holds a newborn baby while she conducts a group prenatal care session with parents of newborns to discuss concerns, expectations and answer any questions the couples may have regarding their birthing experience. (U.S. Army photo by Marcy Sanchez)

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, in 2014, 8.3 percent of all U.S. births were delivered by CNMs

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Women's Health

Sleepy teen? Military sleep specialist says help is available

Electronic devices play a significant role in keeping teenaged children from the sleep they need to remain healthy and productive. (Courtesy photo)

Sagging grades, behavior problems could point to sleep deprivation

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Sleep

App helps Guard Soldiers prepare for physical fitness test

New app available through Guard Your Health will help Soldiers prepare for their physical fitness assessments. (U.S. Army photo)

Guard Your Health recently launched Guard Fit

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Technology | Health Readiness

Repetition, intensity can build a ‘recipe for injury’ during workouts

Avoiding any sudden increases in activity level, duration, load, and intensity can help prevent overuse injuries. Injuries can also happen as a result of technique errors, such as poor form during strength training exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

Doing too much too soon, or too much of the same, can lead to overuse injuries but there are many ways people can prevent these injuries

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Preventive Health | Operation Live Well

Setting goals, logging miles: How to train for a running event

Runners participate in the Mulberry Island Half Marathon at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in September 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Whether you’re training for a 5K or a full marathon, preparing properly takes more than just running

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Operation Live Well

New school year, same risk: Don’t forget the sunscreen

Whether at recess or recreational sports, children and teens are exposed to UV rays and it’s important to protect their skin throughout the school year. Experts recommend re-applying sunscreen after an hour and a half – especially while playing sports outside or swimming. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Wong)

As children and teenagers return to school, experts remind parents to make sunscreen application part of their daily routines throughout the school year

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Operation Live Well

Resources, resiliency help military children turn away from suicidal thoughts

A note about social media written by one of the participants of an Air Force resiliency teen camp is displayed in a classroom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)

Children of military parents face some real challenges, such as frequent relocations, which can make them feel isolated and turn to thoughts of suicide; Find out more about how you can keep them resilient

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Children's Health

NHRC research studies link between injury and fitness

Graphic from NHRC Public Affairs

Dr. Karen Kelly, a physiologist with the Naval Health Research Center’s (NHRC), discussed her recent work examining the relationship between training requirements, fitness and musculoskeletal injuries, during a breakout session at the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) Aug. 30.

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Medical Research and Development
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 8

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.