Specialization in Kids

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JohnDoe
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Specialization in Kids

Post by JohnDoe » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:01 pm

I've been meaning to ask about this for a while now. I coach rowing, a power endurance sport. Most US rowing is sweep rowing with one oar for both hands (sculling is an oar for each hand). Sweep rowing is asymmetrical and does lead to injury over time and there are dumb coaches who do dumb things. My question is that I can't recall hearing anything about the dangers of specialization in the endurance sports. XC, winter track, spring track is a constant and has been for decades. Swimming is similar. Burnout is an issue, certainly, but the endurance sports don't seem to have the ACL, Tommy John, concussion pieces.

Where is and isn't specialization a concern?

*I know freaks can do anything. Almost 90% of the Ohio State FB team played two sports, but that's rare air anyway.

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Shafpocalypse Now
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:00 pm

Overuse injuries. Swimmer's shoulders and runner's knees/ankles come to mind.

Many of which would be mitigated by just a general purpose strength program IMO.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Testiclaw » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:10 pm

I thought this was going to be about clergy.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Boris » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:01 am

Shafpocalypse Now wrote:Overuse injuries. Swimmer's shoulders and runner's knees/ankles come to mind.

Many of which would be mitigated by just a general purpose strength program IMO.
This.

Also (but related to the bad coaching, overuse, and burnout issues), early specialization can (and often does) lead to earlier fossilization of bad technique... and bad technique + time = horrible plateaus and injury eventually.

A problem w. younger athletes who are achieving a measure of success early through busting ass is that some of them just simply cannot slow things the fuck down long enough to really iron out their technical issues. I made this point in the Steve Rogers thread a while back... viewtopic.php?f=1&t=227211

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Shafpocalypse Now
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:00 am

I'm looking at stuff right now to make my daughter resistant to common volleyball injuries...you know how? General strength training.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Testiclaw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:10 am

Loaded, full ROM of joints, extra attention to the usual glute strength.

Mobility in hips, ankles, shoulders. Stability in knees, lumbars, elbows.

Jumping mechanics.

Yadda, yadda.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Testiclaw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:21 am

The biggest issues the wife mentioned when she trained the vball players was horrendous posture and thoracic mobility which gave them all shoulder trouble. Vball players tend to hunch over in their athletic stance.

And, the inability to keep their knees out during jumps or dives.

For what it's worth.
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Shafpocalypse Now
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:24 am

Right.

Because tall girls slump all the damn time because they are taller than boys.

My daughter doesn't have this problem.

I see a lot of unilateral leg work recommended, as well as all the shit you recommend above.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:52 am

That observation can be stretched to a lot of groups. Posture is why we strength train..strengthen athletic positions and postures...It's the actual shit.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by aussie luke » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:30 am

Shafpocalypse Now wrote:I'm looking at stuff right now to make my daughter resistant to common volleyball injuries...you know how? General strength training.

Please accept my sincerest apologies for posting a link to borking muscle, but I thought some of this may be of interest - if not of use - to you. This is an Australian sports physio who went on to look after the Chinese womens volleyball team.

https://breakingmuscle.com/coaches/greg-dea

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syaigh
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by syaigh » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:00 am

Kids are kind of neat the way they develop. Up until pre-pubescence, you'll see a wide range of abilities, but these don't always translate to better performance later in life. At the onset of puberty a bunch of things are going on that, if you aren't aware, you can not only miss the opportunity to maximize, but set them up for injury in the near future.

So, first off, the rowing you are describing is assymetrical. A lot of sports are. And endurance sports have their fair share of overuse injuries. Add in an unbalanced movement and you will have uneven development. So, that needs to be mitigated with more balanced training. I have a few older clients who rowed in college and still have injuries/imbalances that have gotten worse with age. Even if they aren't a problem in their 20's, they become a problem when those imbalances are reinforced by moving incorrectly in daily life.

For girls, the years around the onset of menstruation are when they accumulate up to 90% of their bone density for life. Boys are similar although the timing is somewhat different. Also, puberty brings with it the hormones that allow for increased red blood cell count, muscle growth, etc. So, when kids are hitting puberty, there is a great potential to develop a long term strength and endurance base. The last thing is that kids do not have completely myelinated neurons. This process completes during puberty and guess what? Previously uncoordinated kids get a lot more coordinated.

So, its tempting to have kids specialize, especially if they show some talent, but if you do so, even up until their early teen years, you are missing out on a great opportunity to build a much bigger base, allow for more skill development, and set them up for long term success as active healthy people.

Take some time out to have them develop strength, endurance, and play other sports.

Personally, I have one athletically gifted child and its been tempting to have him specialize (and fights have been fought), but all three of my kids do strength training and running at different times of the year. I've had them run track and cross country and train for and compete in powerlifting (we're not trying to be Jim Wendler, just hit some weights with good form, the meet provides the motivation to train). And then they do one or two seasons of the sport of their choice. In this house that's baseball, softball, and soccer.

I will say this. My daughter was looking like she was going to be like me, ie, extremely uncoordinated. I was a train wreck as a kid. And she hated team sports or anything physical. So, I started having her lift when she turned 8. (She hated that too). I also made her go out for cross country this past year. The awesome ending to this story is that she is a really good softball player now. Strength training gave her confidence, coordination, and work capacity to out perform her team mates from year to year. Adding endurance on top sealed the deal. She's the youngest and smallest kid on her team this year (first year in fast pitch) and has more hits than anyone else on the team.

Not sure if that answers your question, I'm not sure what age you're talking about, but, I think specialization is definitely a concern up until age 15-16.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Bob Wildes » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:32 pm

Shafpocalypse Now wrote:Overuse injuries. Swimmer's shoulders and runner's knees/ankles come to mind.

Many of which would be mitigated by just a general purpose strength program IMO.

I believe that you are absolutely correct as far as distance running. i am not sure about the swimmers shoulder problems being aided by strength training though.

I speak from a bit of experience with distance running. I never had knee issues and I was a high mileage runner for several years in my fifties. I am convinced it was at least partially due to a background of doing squats. Others who ran much lower mileage than me often had knee problems. Most of those never got under a squat bar.

I never swam. It is my understanding that they do much more volume than even elite marathoners do. Double tow hour sessions, seven days a week seem pretty common for competitive swimmers.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Boris » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:58 pm

Bob Wildes wrote:
Shafpocalypse Now wrote:Overuse injuries. Swimmer's shoulders and runner's knees/ankles come to mind.

Many of which would be mitigated by just a general purpose strength program IMO.

I believe that you are absolutely correct as far as distance running. i am not sure about the swimmers shoulder problems being aided by strength training though.

I speak from a bit of experience with distance running. I never had knee issues and I was a high mileage runner for several years in my fifties. I am convinced it was at least partially due to a background of doing squats. Others who ran much lower mileage than me often had knee problems. Most of those never got under a squat bar.

I never swam. It is my understanding that they do much more volume than even elite marathoners do. Double tow hour sessions, seven days a week seem pretty common for competitive swimmers.
It depends. Benching like Serge Nubret certainly isn't going to help, but intelligent work can make a big difference. The postural, hip, and t-spine stuff is huge, of course.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by climber511 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:58 pm

When I look back to my youth we didn't really have an opportunity to specialize. Baseball was "little league" - period. As we got into jr high and HS we had track - no baseball. Football was just the actual season plus conditioning - no lifting. Basketball had its season but then you just shot hoops at the park - nothing was organized at all beyond the actual seasons. So by default we had no opportunity to specialize. There was no organized lifting anywhere - if you lifted it was on your own. There were no camps or clinics etc. As I look back I have mixed feeling about it all - but no regrets. I do wish I had had had a chance to learn some basic gymnastics as I think it would have helped my overall development across the board. My regret at the HS level was never having a chance to try the Decathlon - my "kinda good" at lots of things gift might have given me a shot at the lower levels of it - and it would have been a lot of fun.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by dead man walking » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:19 pm

what climber said.

no summer basketball or ice hockey. no indoor tennis or soccer. a few football lineman and two shot-putters lifted weights. in high school, a guy got a summer job, a case of beer every friday, and did random push-ups.

it was definitely an earlier century.

and as i recall, we did our best to add bone density to any girl who was willing.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by climber511 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:21 pm

dead man walking wrote:what climber said.

it was definitely an earlier century.

and as i recall, we did our best to add bone density to any girl who was willing.
Yeah that was a little different back then too :).

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:20 pm

Bob Wildes wrote:I believe that you are absolutely correct as far as distance running. i am not sure about the swimmers shoulder problems being aided by strength training though..

I got one kid I train who swam well in college...I have to admit, his shoulders confound me. There must be some freakishly deep adaptations and patterns at work there. I've got literally no clue. I just try to keep him from jacking them up.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by JohnDoe » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:27 pm

I had just been thinking about the difference between the 'skill' sports and the 'training' sports at the pre-collegiate level. Syaigh made a nice point with the ages involved and when specialization is less of a concern, which is a big determiner for me, plus it's the time when most kids decide they'd like to pursue the sport at the next level. The windows of trainability are relevant here too, if for no other reason than they're very cool.
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For me, a private school teacher and coach, I'm a gatekeeper of sorts. A kid wants to row more and try to jump up both a level in their athletic career, and, just as important in my world, a level of college education, and I'm the one that lets him down gently or pushes him if it might happen. The 'training' sports don't have highlight reels demonstrating athleticism on YouTube, just a time on a sheet of paper next to a distance.
Just thinking aloud about relative degrees of service and disservice I'm offering to kids entrusted to my care and wondered what this august body of reprobates had to say about the matter.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Boris » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:52 pm

Blaidd Drwg wrote:
Bob Wildes wrote:I believe that you are absolutely correct as far as distance running. i am not sure about the swimmers shoulder problems being aided by strength training though..

I got one kid I train who swam well in college...I have to admit, his shoulders confound me. There must be some freakishly deep adaptations and patterns at work there. I've got literally no clue. I just try to keep him from jacking them up.
The cyclic nature of swimming and the need to shut down tension on the recovery phase of the stroke make the skill of swimming not mesh very well w. regular shoulder exercises (like pressing). It's one reason why a lot of kids who do a lot of weight room work end up w. issues in the pool - undue tension and crappy breathing kills a swimmer very quickly...

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by dead man walking » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:55 pm

presumably you know whether a kid is going to have the raw material for rowing, i.e. be long, have endurance potential, and--perhaps most difficult to know--be tough-minded. basically, you want a tall kid who can't jump.

the first is largely a matter of fate. if the kid is a bit short, then (s)he would have to row as a lightweight. endurance and toughness can be developed to a degree. everyone is not a potential olympian, but could s(he) make a d2 boat with determination?

by the way, perhaps you can test your rowers' aptitude by showing them you tube video of pinsent and cracknell at the end of an erg race or stephansen setting a world record on the erg. if they think that shit is cool, they've demonstrated promise. if not, they're normal humans, and you can throw them overboard.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Blaidd Drwg » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:57 pm

Boris wrote:
Blaidd Drwg wrote:
Bob Wildes wrote:I believe that you are absolutely correct as far as distance running. i am not sure about the swimmers shoulder problems being aided by strength training though..

I got one kid I train who swam well in college...I have to admit, his shoulders confound me. There must be some freakishly deep adaptations and patterns at work there. I've got literally no clue. I just try to keep him from jacking them up.
The cyclic nature of swimming and the need to shut down tension on the recovery phase of the stroke make the skill of swimming not mesh very well w. regular shoulder exercises (like pressing). It's one reason why a lot of kids who do a lot of weight room work end up w. issues in the pool - undue tension and crappy breathing kills a swimmer very quickly...

That makes a lot of sense.
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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:24 pm

aussie luke wrote:
Shafpocalypse Now wrote:I'm looking at stuff right now to make my daughter resistant to common volleyball injuries...you know how? General strength training.

Please accept my sincerest apologies for posting a link to borking muscle, but I thought some of this may be of interest - if not of use - to you. This is an Australian sports physio who went on to look after the Chinese womens volleyball team.

https://breakingmuscle.com/coaches/greg-dea
I read his shit on Draper's site. Pretty tight.

Australian s&c folks are well trained.

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Re: Specialization in Kids

Post by powerlifter54 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:59 pm

Girls need prehab and lower body strengthening more than boys. Girls who specialize in soccer and basketball early are a ortho's meal ticket.
Epidemiology of knee injuries among U.S. high school athletes, 2005/2006-2010/2011.
Swenson DM1, Collins CL, Best TM, Flanigan DC, Fields SK, Comstock RD.
Author information

Abstract
PURPOSE:
U.S. high school athletes sustain millions of injuries annually. Detailed patterns of knee injuries, among the most costly sports injuries, remain largely unknown. We hypothesize that patterns of knee injuries in U.S. high school sports differ by sport and sex.
METHODS:
U.S. high school sports-related injury data were collected for 20 sports using the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System, High School RIO™. Knee injury rates, rate ratios (RR), and injury proportion ratios were calculated.
RESULTS:
From 2005/2006 to 2010/2011, 5116 knee injuries occurred during 17,172,376 athlete exposures (AE) for an overall rate of 2.98 knee injuries per 10,000 AE. Knee injuries were more common in competition than in practice (rate ratio = 3.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.34-3.73). Football had the highest knee injury rate (6.29 per 10,000 AE) followed by girls' soccer (4.53) and girls' gymnastics (4.23). Girls had significantly higher knee injury rates than boys in sex-comparable sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball/softball, lacrosse, swimming and diving, and track and field; RR = 1.52, 95% CI = 1.39-1.65). The most commonly involved structure was the medial collateral ligament (reported in 36.1% of knee injuries), followed by the patella/patellar tendon (29.5%), anterior cruciate ligament (25.4%), meniscus (23.0%), lateral collateral ligament (7.9%), and posterior cruciate ligament (2.4%). Girls were significantly more likely to sustain anterior cruciate ligament injuries in sex-comparable sports (RR = 2.38, 95% CI = 1.91-2.95). Overall, 21.2% of knee injuries were treated with surgery; girls were more often treated with surgery than boys in sex-comparable sports (injury proportion ratio = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.11-1.53).
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