Youth sport participation offers many benefits including the development of self-esteem, peer socialization, and general fitness. However, an emphasis on competitive success—often driven by goals of elite-level travel team selection, collegiate scholarships, Olympic and National team membership, and even professional contracts—has seemingly become widespread. This has resulted in increased pressure to begin high intensity training at young ages. Such an excessive focus on early intensive training and competition at young ages rather than skill development can lead to overuse injury and burnout.
The author is with the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.