Participation in sports is a very important aspect of activity for children and adolescents. Most children have had their first experiences and organize sport by the time they reach elementary school. The typically number of participants in sports increases during childhood, but it declines as they transition into early adolescence. This declining participation rate can be related to several factors related to adolescence such as childrens interests sometimes change, also as kids age into adolescence sports becomes more specialized and selective.
Participation in sports is a major opportunity for children and adolescents to be active. Sports activity helps increase total daily energy expenditure in children and teens who are active as opposed to those who are not. Regular physical activity is important for supporting, normal growth and maturation.
It is important to realize that children are not just small adults. As they grow and mature, they do so at different rates. Meaning they have different patterns of growth and height and weight, and these patterns can affect their development, enjoyment of sports, and the safety of participating in sports.
We also know that participation in certain sports may depend on the athlete's height and weight. For example, female athletes that participate in basketball tend to be taller than their relative peers when it comes to their heights and weights percentiles. Whereas female athletes, who participate in other sports, like gymnastics or figure skating tend to be shorter and lighter in their relative height and weight percentiles.
While training for sport, and at times, intensive training for sport has not been shown to have lasting negative affects on growth, height, or biologic, maturity in kids and teens, as the volume of time training increases, so do risks for injury. Overall, regular training for sport has the potential to favorably influence body composition by improving bone and skeletal muscle strength and also helps to manage adiposity.
Involvement in sports has the potential to promote positive and negative experiences and outcomes. Is important as a sports medicine physician to be able to recognize injuries that are unique to teens and other children who participate in sports both based on the age of the athlete and type of sports that they play. In teens, bony injuries are more common than muscle or ligament injuries as we commonly seeing adults. Other injury patterns are also unique to children and adolescents based on their rate of growth and maturity. Also, flexibility, muscle, and strength imbalances, and previous injury history can factor into injury risk. It is important that coaches, parents, and sports medicine physicians, be good stewards of the sports experiences, of children and adolescents.