We have discussed the idea of specialization a bunch of times, but there is more bad news on the horizon. With all the time off we’ve had with the pandemic and quarantine, many softball players have had more time off in the last few months than they have had in the last several years combined.
The thought of getting back on the field is a very intoxicating thought right now. But we need to understand a couple very simple things.
Over use injuries in softball are real and just because your kid feels great after the layoff doesn’t mean that we can stop thinking about the issues of playing and practicing too much.
A study released by the National Athletic Trainers Association estimates that up to $5 billion a year are spent dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of injuries that can be tied directly to over training across all sports. It sounds like a crazy number. But when you start to think about the millions of kids playing sports, it starts to add up pretty quickly.
We know that when we use the same muscles over and over, we greatly increase the chances of injury. We put tremendous stress on the muscles, tendons, joints and bones of the athletes and, depending on the age of the athletes involved, this greatly increases the incidence and severity of injury.
Many of the players we see making it to the collegiate level are already dealing with serious injuries that often requires surgery to correct the damage.
Specialization is a double-edged sword. One of the factors that make a player a strong player is her dedication to her growth and development. The other side is that when you specialize, you can count on injuries caused from over use.
What is the cost? We already discussed the amazing financial cost, but what about the mental and emotional cost? There is no doubt that many players and parents feel that the hard work will lead to an opportunity at the next level. Now we need to understand whether the value of the scholarship offsets the financial and emotional cost.