Sports doctors say kids are working too fast, too young

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Some of the nation’s top doctors are urging parents and kids to slow down when it comes to youth sports, including some in Indiana who say the culture is not what it used to be.

Pitching coach Jason Taulman gives private lessons at an indoor facility in Fishers and says baseball has become a year-round sport for many kids.

“For me as a trainer it’s 12 months (working),” Taulman said.

Taulman said he agrees with doctors who say kids are now pressured to train in sports year-round and stick with one sport all the time.

“I think the kids are pushing themselves harder and harder these days because … (it’s) become so competitive,” Taulman said.

“You look back 10, 15, 20 years ago, the model was that you played sports year round but you played a different sport each season,” said Dr. Thurman Alvey, of Methodist Sports Medicine.

Alvey said he and other doctors are now seeing kids come in with adult-like injuries at very young ages. Despite recommendations that kids spend a couple months of the year away from sports to rest, Alvey said the reality is that most don’t follow that advice.

“We’re seeing these professional-type injuries in kids who are in middle school or earlier,” Alvey said.

Taulman spent some time coaching 16-year-old Spencer Schriner on Wednesday. Like many kids, Schriner started playing in a competitive, traveling league at a very young age, just 8 years old.

“(I’m always) trying to get stronger, throw the ball harder, just trying to get better,” Schriner said.

Schriner is lucky enough to have had no major injuries in his young athletic career. Taulman credits that to a focus on cross-training and not going all-out all the time.

“A lot of the kids go out and they throw way too much during the season,” Taulman said.

Doctors agree with Taulman’s advice, saying it’s better to get kids working out other areas of their bodies and not pushing too hard at the same thing over and over.

“Pick up something that’s going to use a different part of your body,” Alvey said.

As for Taulman, he said that while he does work with kids to keep them healthy and not push too hard, it does seem that competition is starting at an earlier and earlier age.

“The reality is these kids are improving their skills, the baseball players are much better today. But I look at it too and (think), I don’t know how important that is to play super-competitive baseball at 7, 8, 9 years old,” Taulman said.

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