Preventable Risk Factors for Youth Athletes
- Sport Specialization (playing only 1 sport all year round)
- Too much volume (over 16 hours of training per week)
- Lack of pre-season and/or off season conditioning
- Poor quality or poor fitting equipment / footwear
- Poor technique / mechanics
- Inconsistent training schedule (large variance of volume week to week)
Recommendations to Prevent Injury and Increase Performance
- Training Journal (monitor volume of training and how you feel day to day, week to week)
- Play multiple sports (studies show multi-sport athletes are more likely to play in college and professional sports)
- Consistency of training
- Focus on technique and mechanics first, then going hard and fast
- Monitor physical and mental status / fatigue and adjust training accordingly
- Seek care from qualified Sports Medicine Professionals for any pains, injuries or issues
- SLEEP (8-10 hours per night is recommended for youth athletes)
Flight Recovery / Jet Lag Prevention
Travel and Flying can negatively affect performance. Follow the tips below to minimize the negative effects of flying and long travel trips in the car / bus.
Stiff / Sore Legs:
Get the blood flowing! Take a 15 minute walk, go for an easy jog or hop on a stationary bike in the hotel gym, then spend a few minutes stretching and loosening up. This is ideally done within a few hours of the flight.
Jet Leg / Sleep Cycle Dysfunction:
Get on a normal sleep cycle! If you change time zones during your travel this is especially important. You want to reestablish a normal sleep cycle in your new location as soon as possible. Go to sleep and wake up and ‘normal’ times to avoid Jet Lag and being tired / lacking energy all trip.
Travel has a tendency to leave us groggy and tired for a few hours to a few days. Eating healthy, carb type foods can offset this. It is important to stick to a healthy, regular eating cycle when you travel. Eat a healthy, hearty breakfast each day and consider a cup of coffee in the AM to give you a bit of extra energy.
Boost your immune system:
Take some vitamin C (Emergen-C or Airborne) before and after your flight and consider a saline solution nasal spray to clear your nasal cavities of dust and germ particles that can build up while traveling in busy terminals and flights.
Proper warmup is essential for peak performance, and also decreases risk for injury. Check out the resources below on proper warmup, and integrate these into your team or individual warmup before practices and competition.
Dynamic Injury Prevention program – UCLA Health Orthopedic Institute for Children (downloadable PDF)
Foam Rolling Instruction – UCLA Health Orthopedic Institute for Children (downloadable PDF)