Dangers of Overtraining for Sports!

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With schools starting back last month, it brings a variety of changes for both adults and kids.   One of the things we talked about last month was kids health, nutrition, stress etc.  One of the other big issues is sports and training that comes with back to school time.

Kids get involved in more sports.  Parents have a little more sanity to their more systematic schedule now with school back.  And some people simply reset their fitness or sports activity goals.

With the pressure of competition, scholarships, and simply our egos we often over-train when it comes to sports.  This is especially true with children/minors.  We often look at younger athletes as being small adults but in reality with their growth and maturation still happening this can be dangerous.

Children’s Hospital, Harvard and a variety of other institutions have done studies on athletic training for both kids and adults.  One of the areas often overlooked is children who get injured or suffer long term problems due to overtraining.  Two-a-days and grueling workouts may sound like kids are being tough or just putting in the work, but if not done right—they are the ones who pay the price.  Parents who have their kids in too many activities/sports or simply too many hours a week are in the danger zone.

Studies suggest two very simple guidelines to understand overtraining:

1. Youth who train over 15-20 hours per week are likely overtraining.

2. Increasing training or output by more than 10% at a time can lead to overtraining.  For example if someone suddenly ramps up their training more than 10% at a time, they are at risk vs. safely ramping up.

Repetition, cumulative stress, working through fatigue or injuries, can all lead to greater injury or problems for athletes and sports enthusiasts.  Do all coaches push youth or adults to do this?   The answer is no.  I’ve worked in training programs with NFL coaches, collegiate coaches and more and the best ones understand that if they pass the point of diminishing returns in training, they are putting their players at risk and therefore the entire team at risk.  Training smart is what leads to great athletes and great teams in any sport or activity.

Take the time to check out qualifications of those you allow to coach your kids (or even the adults) in your family.  And ask what benefit you or your kids are really getting from the activity depending on how it’s run.  Some sports and activities promise great results with attitudes, confidence and values but then we never see it happen.  So a good, honest assessment of the sport, activity or coach can lead to your best decisions.   Then once in an activity or sport, be proactive in monitoring signs of overtraining.  Declining performance, irritability and unwillingness to work with teammates, slower times, less endurance, lack of motivation to practice—these can all be warning signs of overtraining.  Less experiences coaches or instructors may choose this as the time to push harder—and this results in only worsening the situation and risking injury or long term health problems.

Train smart!


For more information on health, safety and fitness, contact Jeff Dousharm at Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com


by Jeff Dousharm, President

Tiger Rock

402.570.1166