Dear Parents,

We believe it is important that you understand how and why we train the children. Please remember the primary goal of any coach, in any sport, at any level of competition is not teaching the sport skill, it is to make sure training is safe to reduce the risk of injury during practice and competitions.

In the past, we have not communicated our thoughts to you, regarding a child performing 2 sport practices/competitions in one day. Our intent is to be informative, reasonable, and provide a safe training/gaming program for your child. We are not passing judgement and do not intend to offend anyone if you choose to have your child perform 2 sport practices/competitions in one day. You may disagree with us after reading this article and that is OK.

An overwhelming pool of pediatric research has documented an increase in youth sport injuries due to over training and over gaming. This is problematic because children are more susceptible to overuse injuries than adults. (also see.." Heat and Exercises Guidelines" under the tab Educational Articles for Youth Sport Participation on this website).

Bones are one reason children are more susceptible to injuries. The ends of children’s long bones are softer than adults. Tendons that attach to these areas of bone pull to produce joint motion, providing mobility. Ligaments attach bone to bone and provide stability. In one example of an overuse injury condition, repeated bouts of exercise (overuse) can produce inflammation and pain at the tendon - bone attachment or ligament – bone attachment. In a worst case scenario, the stress of over use ( running, kicking a soccer ball or jumping), passes through a tendon or ligament and can pull a piece of bone away from the main piece of bone. This is called an avulsion fracture. This type of fracture is not caused by blunt trauma, but by repeated bouts of over exposure to exercise. Hence, the child is on the bench not able to participate and may require surgery.

Symptoms can progress when the prevailing attitude of the coach, parent or youth athlete is to work through the pain. This problem can also be magnified if the child is undergoing a growth spurt.

To help mitigate this problem, a youth sport coach and parent should regard patience with training as a necessity, even when the athlete transitions from one sport season directly to another. Transition from one sport to another often requires several weeks for the athletes body to adjust to the new movement demands. Recent studies have indicated 4-6 weeks of rest between sport seasons is recommended for pediatric populations.

Research has revealed overuse injuries in the pediatric population as a percentage is higher than any other group of athletes including professional, Olympic, college athletes. Many youth athletic injuries occur due to fatigue, when the coach pushes a child too hard in practice or the child participates in more than one sport or team at the same time. Another example of over training is running wind sprints near the end of practice. This type of training should be completed after a full warm up session at the start of practice. This type of intense running at the end of training sessions will be fatigue athletes and their biomechanical technique will suffer. The biomechanical alteration can put your athletes at a higher risk for injury. AVOIDING INJURY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS WITH YOUNG ATHLETES, AND BEING CONSERVATIVE WITH TRAINING AND GAMING IS THE KEY TO AVOIDING INJURY.

Examples of conservative training in our track program include: a 20-25 minute warm up that focuses on strength, balance, flexibility and agility, not performing intense training or all out sprinting until the 4th week of practice and lastly, we do not perform intense sprints at the end of practice.

Waiting until the 4th week of practice allows the children to adapt in a physiological manner and we would argue a psychological manner to cope with the demands of training. Research has revealed that at a minimum, about 3-4 weeks of training at the same intensity and frequency is required for the body to adapt to a given training stimulus. Once this adaptation occurs, training intensity/frequency can be adjusted.

We will begin to increase the intensity of training starting the fourth week of our program. That is, once per week, each week, the children will be performing appropriate high intensity work bouts for periods of time that vary from repeated bouts of 10- 15 seconds to 3 minutes, with adequate rest periods. We usually do this on a Monday or Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday. This is a demanding practice session yet appropriate and adjusted for your child.

We cannot justify any child having an intense practice with us that is preceded or followed by another sport practice/game on the same day. When a child comes to track practice preceded by another practice the same day, we have noticed they struggle to keep up with their peers and so, we will tell them to stop. This is not good for them physiologically and psychologically, as they want to keep up with their friends and complete the workout. If you keep your child in the track program and they double up on workouts in the same day, they will always have a light training day with us.

Our CYO track and cross country programs are not intended to be a training program for another sport that runs concurrently thus causing your child to experience multiple training sessions in one day. As we have said year after year during the preseason parent meeting, if your child is in another sport they should practice with us 2 times per week, no more. Hopefully they never have 2 training sessions in one day.

To help remedy the multiple training/gaming sessions in one day, there are at least 3 options:

  1. With your permission, we can communicate with the other sport coach. Together, might be able to work out a safer training schedule for your child. Maybe the other coach will let your child miss one practice per week. we have done this in the past with a few soccer and volleyball coaches and it has worked out well.
  2. You can let us know the sport schedule (practices and games) of your child so we can adjust our training accordingly.
  3. Drop one sport.

Bottom line- Safety First, it's simply not wise to assume, "My child can handle the load."

Glenn, Steve and Bob