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little league girl

Winning a little league championship is a good goal, but it should never come at the cost of what is best for a young athlete's long-term development

Toby Brooks, Ph.D., ATC, assistant professor in the SOAHS Master of Athletic Training Program, encourages parents and coaches to critically analyze their children's athletic activities.

Studies show early sport specialization is linked to chronic injury, burnout and early withdrawal from sports. Chronic overuse injuries account for about 50 percent of injuries in pediatric sports medicine practices. The developing skeletal system is especially at risk, with bone and growth plate injuries in young athletes being seen more often.

Brooks said parents and coaches should look for long-term athletic development programs to slowly develop abilities over time. The end result is athletes who are happier, healthier and more effective.