MomsTeam Update: Parents have options for bullying in sports

This week's top stories at MomsTeam.com, a website devoted to health and safety issues in youth sports:

  • If the current controversy swirling around the Miami Dolphins' Richie Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin teaches youth sports parents anything, it is that bullying doesn't just happen at school, it can also happen on sports teams, and at all levels, from peewee to the pros. In fact, a recent study revealed that there is a high probability on most youth sports teams that one or more of the lesser skilled players will be bullied or teased by a more skilled teammate. Good coaches are alert to the possibility of bullying and proactively seek ways to reduce it, said Brooke de Lench, who offers some suggestions to parents on what to do if they find their child is being bullied by his or her teammates.
  • Speaking of bullying, while studies consistently list "lack of enjoyment" as the number one reason kids quit sports, de Lench thinks that if researchers dug deeper, they would find that one of the principal reasons kids say they are not having fun is likely because they are being bullied or teased, either by their teammates or the coach. In addition, de Lench suggested that if a child is thinking about quitting, parents should help draft a list of pros and cons of continuing to play a sport. Quitting should always be the last option. When parents and their children have talked about the decision with the coach and understand that quitting is the best choice for the child, de Lench also emphasizes the importance of helping the child quickly find another physical activity.
  • At the other end of the spectrum from kids quitting sports are those who play a single sport on a year-round basis. While sports specialization -- including year-round sport-specific training, participation on multiple teams in the same sport and focused participation in a single sport -- has increased dramatically in recent years, especially among preadolescent athletes, it can lead to long-term problems, the authors of a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.
  • A growing body of evidence suggests that psychological factors play an important role in determining whether or not an athlete can make a successful return to sport following injury. One of the first things physical therapist Keith Cronin, PT, OCS, CSCS, assesses when working with injured athletes is their psychological well-being, ranging from how they respond to questions, to eye contact, body posture, and attitude, to whether they fidget with their hands or feet. Cronin also said that he observes how athletes respond to their parents, as well as who can aid these injured athletes in becoming psychologically ready to return to sports in a number of important ways.
  • MomsTeam is still digging into last week's 300-some-odd page report on sports-related concussions in youth sports from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, but one thing jumped out at first reading: There was only one passing reference to impact monitoring devices (aka hit sensors), and only in the context of their use for research purposes. Conspicuous by its absence from the report was any mention of the practical applications for such technology, especially but not limited to using them to help identify athletes who may have suffered concussions so they can be evaluated for possible concussions on the sports sideline. De Lench found the omission especially glaring and surprising, given the growing number of concussion researchers who see benefits of real time impact monitoring of impact sensors on the sports sideline.

-- MomsTeam.com and NFL Evolution

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