Skip to content
| Blog

Ask Dr. Skendzel: When Can My Child Safely Begin Sports?

Fitness habits start us on the road to a healthy active lifestyle. How early should parents start encouraging children in sports? Dr. Skendzel shares his thoughts about how parents can cultivate good health through activity.

“We know the health benefits of being active,” says sports medicine physician Dr. Jack Skendzel. “Parents can set the stage for an active life by creating positive expectations. Is your toddler fascinated by your exercise routine? Explaining that you exercise because it’s fun and healthful teaches your child to see activity from a positive perspective.

Understanding child’s development

“When children get older and express an interest in sports activities, I think it’s good for parents to maintain an emphasis on health and wellness—and I say this from the perspective of a sports medicine physician,” Dr. Skendzel continues. “I see a lot of overuse injuries in adolescence. I think parents have to be mindful that sometimes young athletes place demands on their bodies that exceed their bodies’ capabilities.

“Adolescents are still growing and they are skeletally immature. That makes them vulnerable to overuse injuries in sports. At Summit, we see overuse injuries in young athletes ranging from tendonitis and jumper’s knee, to patellofemoral syndrome and damaged growth plates. Certain sports, like gymnastics, dance, baseball, and softball, have particular risk of overuse injuries. I treat a lot of 11-, 12-, 13-, and 14-year-old dancers.”

Pressures of performance

Today, children are under pressure to win and to be the best, to train heavily and consistently, and to compete at a high level. Many play one sport all year, or they go from a spring sport to summer soccer and then football in the fall and hockey through the winter without a break.

Guidelines: When can my child safely begin sports?

Dr. Skendzel offers parents the following guidelines:

“We all want to win and be great,” grins Dr. Skendzel. “But sometimes, we have to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and make sure our children are taking a healthy approach to sports. Giving young athletes a break now when they need it helps to prevent further injury down the road.”

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise

From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, Plymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.

Additional resources for you