Over training in children – How to Spot the Signs

It might seem strange reading about over training in children. Especially in an age where kids are supposedly less active! But it’s a very real possibility. I run a sports injury clinic and have seen a massive rise in the number of children who come in to see me with over use related injuries. Many of whom have even come before the first game of this season!

It made me think about my own team as we have just gone into U8’s football. We have been training and playing competitive games for the best part of a year with a small break over the summer! Friendlies, FA arranged games and what seems like endless tournaments filling in the gaps! Some of the kids playing extra as they are attached to other clubs too.

Speaking to other coaches it appears this is exactly the same for them. In fact some have literally had no break at all, training through the summer.

Children start playing football much earlier these days than their parents would have for example. Now some children seem to be specialising by the age of 7, already being attached to several bigger clubs, and travelling all over the country and further to play for them. It’s crazy if you think about it seriously!

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Kids grow at an exceptional rate, with muscles struggling to keep up with bone growth. This will cause issues with coordination and muscle imbalances. Growth plate injuries are common with sever’s disease (inflammation of the growth plate of the heel) as an example being something that I see regularly with young football players..

As a parent it’s important to spot some of the signs of over training issues or burnout in general. Don’t be that parent who tells your kid to get on with it. LISTEN TO WHAT THEY TELL YOU!! Look at some common signs below

– Are they complaining of muscle and joint pain?
– Decreased performance in games or training?
– Have they started to struggle with school work?
– Sleep problems? You may find they are not going to sleep as quickly, or find it harder to get out of bed in the morning. They may even be sleeping more and still feeling tired.
– Are they forever getting coughs, colds and feeling unwell?
– Has there been a change in their behaviour? Such as being more emotional or just not their normal self?
– Actually not wanting to go training, or disinterested from other activities they do
– Loss of appetite


So how can we help our child to recover or prevent issues in the first place? Some of these things will sound so basic, but we still don’t do them!

– As above listen and keep a close eye on your child
Ensure your child is resting, drinking and eating appropriate food.
– Kids need sleep! If they are out training until late every night and up for school early in the morning then it’s a sign they are not getting enough.
– Have scheduled rest days
– Reduce the amount of football specific training sessions they do per week. Cutting out one session a week is still roughly 50 a year.
– Don’t focus on one sport, and let them get involved in other activities. This will also help them develop in lots of different areas which in turn will improve their overall game!
Football should be FUN! Remember it’s not about you, its about your child!
– Invest in a decent therapist who can help with proper injury treatment and rehab.
– Schedule in proper rest periods. This could be a strict rest over the Christmas, Easter and Summer 6 week holidays. Their bodies will thank you for it! If you are a coach you can help by enforcing this with your own team.
– Depending on the age of your child, there is no harm in them taking on a strength and conditioning approach especially out of football season. This will help strengthen weak points and work on muscle imbalances. This in turn can help to prevent injuries and improve performance.

I talk about football specifically in this post, but this can be applied to all sports!

If you have any questions your welcome to email me at info@richknightperformance.com or even check out my facebook page www.facebook.com/richknightperformance which is full of useful self help videos which can be used by you, and your family alike.

Guest Author Rich Knight, more from Rich HERE https://www.richknightperformance.com/?fbclid=IwAR256SJp7S3nBIeGCpuTX3_1j1Rxy93ImTdPCb-64Co6efbfxKliYq5PRqg

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