Physioworks Health Group: Children in Sport – Play vs Play



by Brad Fernihough, APA Sports Physiotherapist, Physioworks Health Group. December 2017.

In recent times, as seen in our clinic and reported across the wider health care community, there has been an increasing number of children requiring knee reconstructions after sporting mishaps.

More recent scientific evidence appears to demonstrate that children are specialising far too early into only one single sport, not allowing their bodies to experience a diversified range of biomechanical tasks that challenge landing and change of direction.

Furthermore, the distinct change in the day to day behaviours’ of children now means that less children are getting out and just playing in the park, climbing trees, exploring/free running through uneven terrain, all of which introduce new movement patterns to the child central nervous system.

With most sports going to a level of professionalism that now provide legitimate career paths for children to aspire to, there has been a change in the focus of the child and parents to stream line the child’s activities into one sport, only much earlier (8-14 years).

Increasingly, children are shuttled earlier into one off and very structured activities requiring only one movement pattern. It seems though, that by doing this early in the child’s neuromuscular development, it limits the child’s exposure to a variety of biomechanical tasks that would normally challenge the rapidly changing neuroplasticity in their developing brains. This has the potential to cause only a limited variety of movement strategies to be used with sudden change of direction, take off and stopping or altered landing technique, resulting in increased injury rates in younger children.

At Physioworks Health Group we strongly advocate and encourage children participating in & playing a variety of sports and activities.

Physioworks Health Group provide injury prevention education and support to many local community youth sporting clubs across a range of sports; including the AFL junior football for girls and boys (Ashy Redbacks and Waverley Park Hawks), Basketball (Casey Basketball Association) and Softball (Brandon Heights Bandits). Our team at Physioworks Health Group Camberwell has extensive physiotherapy expertise including Pediatric Physiotherapy , Sports Physiotherapy & Dance Medicine Physiotherapy.

Below are some important points and useful online reference articles for your consideration, which may allow your children to develop, flourish and become better athletes:

  • The environment and setting where you practice is important. The more outdoors the better. Variety will expose your children to multiple biomechanical challenges.
  • Landing, falling, and passing obstacles with poise are essential skills.
  • “Kids need risk fear and excitement in play”.

Source: theconversation.com

Source: Irish Times

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily.

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