High-impact sports, such as football, basketball, soccer, or gymnastics, can offer numerous benefits for children's development, but they also come with potential risks. Understanding the pros and cons can help parents and caregivers make informed decisions about their child's participation in high-impact sports.
PROS OF PLAYING HIGH-IMPACT SPORTS FOR CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT:
Physical development: High-impact sports can promote strength, endurance, balance, coordination, and flexibility. These activities can help children build strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and improve their overall fitness.
Social skills: Participating in team-based high-impact sports can help children develop essential social skills, such as teamwork, communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution.
Cognitive development: High-impact sports can also help improve children's cognitive function, including their focus, attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities.
Emotional development: Playing high-impact sports can teach children how to manage emotions like frustration, disappointment, and stress. It can also help them develop self-confidence, resilience, and a sense of achievement.
Discipline and work ethic: High-impact sports often require dedication, commitment, and practice, which can instill a strong work ethic and self-discipline in children.
CONS OF PLAYING HIGH-IMPACT SPORTS FOR CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT:
Risk of injury: High-impact sports can pose a higher risk of injury compared to low-impact activities. Injuries can range from minor bruises and sprains to more severe issues, such as fractures, dislocations, or concussions.
Overtraining and burnout: Intense training schedules and the pressure to perform can lead to overtraining and burnout, which can have negative effects on children's physical and emotional well-being.
Focus on winning: Some high-impact sports environments can foster a win-at-all-costs mentality, which may detract from the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, and personal growth.
Limited diversity in physical activity: Focusing solely on a single high-impact sport can limit a child's exposure to a variety of physical activities, which is essential for well-rounded physical development.
When considering whether high-impact sports are suitable for a child, it's important to weigh the benefits against the potential risks. Parents and caregivers should consider the child's age, interests, and physical abilities, as well as the coaching philosophy and safety measures in place. Encouraging a balance of high-impact sports with other low-impact activities and rest periods can help minimize potential risks while still promoting healthy development. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new sports program for your child, particularly if they have any pre-existing medical conditions or special needs.
Training data up to September 2021. These sources can be helpful for further reading and research on the topics discussed.
Physical, social, and cognitive benefits of sports for children:
Eime, R. M., Young, J. A., Harvey, J. T., Charity, M. J., & Payne, W. R. (2013). A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: Informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 98. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-10-98
Risks of high-impact sports for children:
Launay, F. (2015). Sports-related overuse injuries in children. Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, 101(1), S139-S147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.otsr.2014.06.024
Sports specialization and injury risk:
Jayanthi, N., Pinkham, C., Dugas, L., Patrick, B., & LaBella, C. (2013). Sports specialization in young athletes: Evidence-based recommendations. Sports Health, 5(3), 251-257. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738112464626
Importance of diverse physical activity for children:
Robinson, L. E., Stodden, D. F., Barnett, L. M., Lopes, V. P., Logan, S. W., Rodrigues, L. P., & D'Hondt, E. (2015). Motor competence and its effect on positive developmental trajectories of health. Sports Medicine, 45(9), 1273-1284. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0351-6