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Protecting Youth Players From Overtraining: Are We Pushing Too Hard?

As we’ve recently explored, the past few decades have really advanced the game of soccer, emphasizing the use of technology and sports science to maximize athletic performance.

Elite sports labs are continually studying new training methodologies, and the Internet has made cutting-edge sports research and regimens more readily available to everyone. The premier athlete’s body is now intensely measured and tracked; heart rate monitors urge speeding up or slowing down. Technology dictates how hard to push, how much we can take. We all have a better understanding of the human body and how to most effectively build strength, flexibility and endurance.

The upside is that today’s elite athlete is stronger, faster and more powerful… like a fine-tuned machine. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering where it will all stop: how much quicker can a human run? How high can we jump? Are we pushing too hard?

Speculation aside, there is one very real danger in this highly-competitive performance-obsessed approach: its trickle down to our youth. In our culture, where professional sports are woven deep into the fabric of our daily lives and fantasies, the pressure on young athletes to excel can be crushing. And it seems to be affecting younger and younger kids.

This intense pressure, with its laser-like focus on performance and winning, can have both physical and psychological repercussions on kids, who frankly aren’t built for adult training – mentally or physically.

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