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3 Common Training Mistakes Teen Athletes Make

There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. But if your child is pushing himself too hard to get in shape for the fall sports season, he could be risking an injury. We asked Bart Peterson, M.S.S., A.T.C., a member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, for the most common mistakes high school athletes make.

Problem #1: They're Overtraining Certain Body Parts

"Kids want to lift as much weight as their peers and try to go above their max all the time," says Peterson. First rule: Verify that there's a qualified adult supervisor (like a coach or athletic trainer) watching your child during after-school workouts. If you notice a change in her posture—for example, she seems hunched over—she may be neglecting certain muscle groups, which could set her up for an injury in the future.

Problem #2: They Don't Warm Up

Easing into a workout will not only help prevent your child from overdoing it early on, but will also make his workout more effective by priming the body for more demanding movements. His coach should have him do basic exercises at a slow pace for about 10 to 15 minutes. But, notes Peterson, some teens may need more time. "Ideally, kids will be starting to break a sweat," says Peterson. Remind him to cool down with about 10 to 15 minutes of stretching.

Problem #3: They're Trying Too Hard

If your child is in pain or has felt a nagging soreness lately, that's her body's way of saying "slow down," explains Peterson. Because kids are specializing in a single sport at younger ages, overuse injuries are becoming increasingly common. Ask the athletic trainer at her school to evaluate her. She could be using improper form or exercising too hard, or she may not have let a pre-existing sprain or fracture heal enough.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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