I am not into youth athletics, nor do I have any intentions of going in that direction in the near future. My comments on this subject of overuse and other relevant topics are strictly confined to what I witness by many players coming out of the youth environment into the adult world of competitive baseball.
A human being who is not involved in the business of athletics, as he or she grows and develops, does so with only the issues of healthy day-to-day existence. Diet, exercise and things relative to this world’s environment all fall in line with said person’s ethnic and social surroundings, in addition to various personal persuasions. Add athletics to one’s youths experience and we have additional concerns - but not overly so, depending on the athletics. Simple playground fun, sandlot ball and other non-organized activities are as healthy as they are enjoyable.
But - let’s crank up the stress load(s), the repeated demands of performance, and address specific movement with rules and protocols, times and distance demands, scorecards, labels attaching winner and loser to people and organizations, and last by not least - money.
With all that just said - why do so many find it surprising, not to mention a revelation in being something totally new, injury related happenstance from subjecting a youngster to sports, who hasn’t had the benefit of preparing for this competitive environment, with nutritional and physical strength and conditioning counseling. Add to this, the absolute complacency and neglectful attention span of most - not all, in organized youth baseball to address nutrition, strength and conditioning, even at the secondary school level, is beyond me.
I’ve been witnessed to the most amazing “how the heck did you get this far?” I’ve seen some of the most pathetic examples of baseball player, and in numbers that would astound most casual observers. Or sure, these people look great, perform well during the short run - but that’s it.
Case in point. Recently, I attempted to offer some coaching assistance to a young man from a college not far from me, that fits this example to a tee. His core strength was so weak, that after only a few days, he had couldn’t sustain his attendance. Now this man was college material, made it through high school ball, summer leagues, the works. But how he managed to acquire a roster spot on a college club was beyond me. I know this is only one example, but I could go on with others, and that would only be repetitive.
Overuse and other conditions/terms relative to youth sports, I think, should also address the condition, at the outset, of the participants first. Specifically, their overall health and physical maturity, motor skills, and their competency at the level that they’re competing at.
But then again, I’m not from the youth game. My experience is woefully inadequate here. However, I’ve tried to contribute to this topic based on what I’ve experience at the other end of the tunnel, when these youngsters, as men, stepped onto my fields.