Internet Explorer Alert

It appears you are using Internet Explorer as your web browser. Please note, Internet Explorer is no longer up-to-date and can cause problems in how this website functions
This site functions best using the latest versions of any of the following browsers: Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Safari.
You can find the latest versions of these browsers at

For Release:


Media Contact:

Lisa Black

Sports help children and teens keep their bodies fit and feel good about themselves. With spring sports underway, families can enjoy the camaraderie and excitement surrounding athletic events while their children develop new skills.

There are some important injury prevention tips that can help parents promote a safe, optimal sports experience for their child. Pediatricians, for example, advise that young athletes avoid specializing in only one sport.

“We encourage children to play a variety of sports, both to increase their enjoyment over time and to avoid injuries we often see with overuse,” said Dr. Alison Brooks, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “Parents can play a big role in influencing their children to play sports that are appropriate for their age, development and physical abilities.”

Pediatricians also encourage children and teens with disabilities to participate in sports, recreation, and physical activities whenever possible. Some of the many benefits for all children and teens include improved physical and cognitive health, better social skills and relationships, enhanced well-being and self-esteem and improved sleep and behavior.

All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of a traumatic injury. However, most injuries in young athletes are due to overuse.

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments); strains (injuries to muscles); growth plate irritation (apophysitis): and stress fractures (injury to bone) caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if there is minimal swelling or limitation in motion.

Here are some tips to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover.
  • Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will prevent all injuries while performing more dangerous or risky activities.
  • Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
  • Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.
  • Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
  • Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
  • Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and checking (hockey) should be enforced.
  • Stop the activity if there is pain. Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for a child.

“Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work,” Dr. Brooks said. “They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition. The main goal should be to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills.” offers additional tips on mental health skills that children need for sports in an article here.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Feedback Form