The Growing Pressure on Young Athletes


The increasing pressure on student athletes to perform at the highest level of competition is causing a high injury rate. The potential for injury in students who specialize in a single sport is growing as a result of over working the same body parts, and as a result, young athletes all over the country are becoming more susceptible to serious injuries such as tendinitis, tennis elbow, or shin splints.

A study from the Washington Post found that students who specialize in one sport are 70% more likely to become injured compared to those who don’t. This is because of the fact that students who only play a single sport usually train year round and put a lot of stress on their body. This is a result of increasing pressure from our communities to continue with a sport year-round and stick with it until college.

Many student athletes feel the stress of increasing competition and feel the need train year- round in a sport to gain a competitive edge. As a result, they just keep pushing and pushing until they have gone too far. A trainer in D.C.’s public school system, Jennifer Rheeling said, “The pressure to achieve in a single sport drives many athletes to continue to specialize and over-train.”

Students from Woodgrove High School feel like they understand how easily pressure could lead them to injure themselves. 9th grade varsity field hockey player Mia Cammarota said, “There is definitely a lot of pressure to keep pushing when you are injured in a game because, even though coaches say that you can sit out if you’re injured, students worry about sitting out because you can probably count on not getting much playing time in the next game.”

While pressure is all part of the game of sports, the rate of serious injuries due to over-training has substantially increased in the past ten years in young athletes. Kids are now getting injuries so serious that they need special attention that before recently was only seen on older adults.

A little over 40 years ago a procedure called Tommy John Surgery was first attempted. Tommy John is a ligament reconstruction surgery that was generally only performed on professional baseball players who were usually around the age of 30. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, since 2015, 56.8 percent of these procedures were now being performed on athletes from ages 15 to 19.

To prevent serious injuries from happening it is important for people who specialize to try to give their body a day or two to rest each week so that they can come back stronger. It is also helpful to pick up another sport to keep their other muscle groups in shape too.

Sophomore Abby Fisher plays three sports and has never been injured from over-training. This is most likely because she gives her muscles a break by cycling through different activities, and she stays in shape by cross-training.

Fisher says she never feels any pressure to push herself too far because she participates in sports because she enjoys them. “The only time I ever feel pressure is when I’m pressuring myself. I want to do better for myself, not for anyone else,” she said.