top of page

Competitive Youth Sports and the Rise of Overuse, Burnout, and Injury

Not all organised youth sports are for fun. Youth athletes are urged to push themselves to be exceptional. With this attitude comes intense training and large time commitments. The competitive, high-intensity nature of youth sports has created an atmosphere that functions as a breeding ground for overuse, burnout, and career-ending injuries.

How can we prevent this?

It's wonderful for a child to love a sport and to want to engage in it, but we must keep in mind the number of hours spent playing," said Alison Field, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Brown University.

The risk factors for burnout, overuse and career-ending injuries are traditionally grouped into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic risk factors are psychological and physical characteristics of the athlete that might put him or her at risk, while extrinsic risk factors refer to risk factors introduced by the sport. The most common intrinsic risk factors are prior injury; stage of growth and development, which encompasses flexibility, potential for strength and conditioning, skeletal development; and individual body mechanics. Adolescence is a critical time for growth and development. Young athletes are often trained with no regard for development. This can lead to increased stress on bones, ligaments, or other structures that are not completely developed, let alone prepared, to handle vigorous, strenuous activity. Extrinsic risk factors include workload, scheduling, and equipment. Coaches rarely have an understanding of their athletes’ lives outside of their participation on the team and can easily push already exhausted young athletes to their breaking point. If scheduling and intensity of sporting events are not considered carefully, then injury is extremely likely (Difiori et al.).

The Light Magic programs and assessments are aimed at training young athletes to become more aware of their body mechanics and are encouraged to increase their mobility and strengthen muscle groups to help stabilise and protect their joints from injury.


"American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Training Programs to Reduce Risk of ACL Tears in Young Athletes." American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Healy, Michelle. "1.35 Million Youths a Year Have Serious Sports Injuries." USA Today. Gannett, 6 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. <>.

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (2015, June 24). Girls at higher risk for overuse injuries in high school sports. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 17, 2019 from

bottom of page