Injuries can hinder a child’s development, both physically and sports specifically. Load management should be the number one priority, in both preventing and managing injuries in young sports players. This will enable them to have lifelong participation in sport or to excel when the time is right.

 

Overloading our players through periods of peak growth can have significant detrimental effects. Our adolescent and youth players are at a more vulnerable phase of their sporting life. There is an overabundance of sporting opportunities available to them. The benchmark of organised sport for players has shifted significantly over the years with a high-level structured approach, increased level of intensity, increased demand on time and increased specialisation at a younger age. This is combined with a player’s peak skeletal growth, at approximately 11 years (girls) to 13 years (boys), and their developing bodies (musculoskeletal systems), when they are more exposed and susceptible to injuries (including chronic overuse injuries and severe and debilitating injuries).

More information and guidelines are available through:

Basic rules of thumb to assist with managing your players load

  • All trainings and games should be pain-free, for every player with no exception

  • Training sessions should be quality and not quantity. This will assist in avoiding overload and overload injuries

  • Utilise Smart Sessions – if a sport session isn’t intense enough, then it is best to complete it with some extra intervals or shuttles at the end of this session, instead of adding in another session later in the week

  • Thorough recovery practices and sleep are important

  • It is essential that our developing and growing players have one rest day per week. Rest and recovery days may be a full rest day or include a light, non-weight-bearing session (e.g. bike or pool)

  • During tournaments, players do not need to complete their normal weekly trainings as well – just continue any rehab or strengthening exercises

  • At the end of tournaments, all players need to have a minimum of 2-3 days stand down from all sport and training, to enable the body rest and recovery time from the workload of the tournament, before heading back into their normal schedule

  • The day after the tournament, players should complete a pool recovery and active stretching or rolling session

  • When deciding what sports or activities to begin, have your child write down what their week will look like in a diary, so that they can see for themselves how much activity and rest they will have

Overloading is not always bad. When undertaking training and conditioning, an overload needs to occur to allow a training adaption to take place – planned, purposeful and periodised training will elicit the appropriate adaptation.