‘Bio-band­ing’ of young ath­letes

A way to keep kids play­ing sports and re­duce in­jury

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dr. John R. Mishock

In the United States, it is es­ti­mated that 60 mil­lion chil­dren and ado­les­cents (ages 5 to 14) play or­ga­nized sports each year at a cost of over $7 bil­lion and growing (Min­nesota Am­a­teur Sports Com­mis­sion).

Un­for­tu­nately, ap­prox­i­mately 70 per­cent if these kids stop play­ing sports by age 13 (Jour­nal of Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity and Health, 2014). Of­ten the cause of the dropout is due to the feel­ing of in­ad­e­quacy over their abil­ity to com­pete with their peers.

Much of the abil­ity to com­pete in sports at the youth level has more to do with growth and mat­u­ra­tion ver­sus tal­ent and skill. At any given age in youth and ado­les­cent devel­op­ment, there can be a two- to five-year dif­fer­ence in bi­o­log­i­cal mat­u­ra­tion (phys­i­cal, so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal). For ex­am­ple, it is not un­com­mon in youth ath­let­ics to see a 12-year-old (who looks like a man) dom­i­nat­ing the sports scene due to his sig­nif­i­cant size and bet­ter ath­leti­cism com­pared to his peers. Com­pet­ing against that in­di­vid­ual is an­other 12-year-old who looks sig­nif­i­cantly younger with less size and ath­leti­cism.

Bio-band­ing is the process of group­ing ath­letes based on at­tributes as­so­ci­ated with growth and mat­u­ra­tion (height, weight, phys­i­cal ma­tu­rity) rather than chrono­log­i­cal age. There is a be­lief that not only will this type of group­ing keep more kids play­ing sports, but it will also help re­duce the risk of in­jury among young ath­letes.

The tim­ing of in­di­vid­ual mat­u­ra­tion (peak ve­loc­ity of height, or pu­berty) can have great im­pli­ca­tions for train­ing, com­pe­ti­tion and tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. When the child reaches pu­berty, nat­u­ral hor­mones (growth hor­mone, testos­terone and in­sulin growth fac­tor) are re­leased, mak­ing the young ath­lete taller, stronger, faster and more pow­er­ful than his or her coun­ter­parts. How­ever, these mat­u­ra­tion dif­fer­ences among youth ath­letes are un­no­tice­able in late ado­les­cence and early adult­hood; there­fore, the dif­fer­ences in per­for­mance be­comes non-ex­is­tent, or at least sub­stan­tially re­duced to­wards the end of ado­les­cence (Euro­pean Jour­nal of Ap­plied Phys­i­ol­ogy).

Bio-band­ing tries to cre­ate an op­ti­mal en­vi­ron­ment where both early and late-ma­tur­ing ath­letes can thrive. For ex­am­ple, when early ma­tur­ing ath­letes are com­pet­ing against oth­ers of sim­i­lar bi­o­log­i­cal age, they will no longer be able to rely on their phys­i­cal prow­ess and, there­fore, would be en­cour­aged to use and de­velop their tech­ni­cal and tac­ti­cal skills re­lated to the sport. It would also pre­pare them for fu­ture chal­lenges where they may have to com­pete against equal or more ma­ture play­ers. This equal­iz­ing ap­proach also ben­e­fits the late-ma­tur­ing ath­lete, who would have a greater op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate their phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal at­tributes.

Even if bio-band­ing of young ath­letes never comes to fruition in our youth sports leagues, it is im­por­tant to keep en­cour­ag­ing the late-de­vel­op­ing ath­lete to not quit and keep play­ing the sport. For the early de­vel­op­ing or late-de­vel­op­ing ath­lete, spe­cific skill devel­op­ment re­lated to their sport should be a top pri­or­ity, as phys­i­cal mat­u­ra­tion will soon equal­ize, re­duc­ing the ad­van­tages had by early mat­u­ra­tion. In the end, the highly skilled ath­lete will have the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess in their sport.

My new book, “Fun­da­men­tal Train­ing Prin­ci­ples: Es­sen­tials for build­ing the Elite Ath­lete,” pro­vides the lat­est, sci­en­tif­i­cally based ex­er­cise and phys­i­cal train­ing prin­ci­ples to de­velop the elite ath­lete and can be ob­tained at www.train2­playsports.com.

If pain is lim­it­ing you from do­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties you en­joy, give Mishock Phys­i­cal Ther­apy a call for a Free Phone Con­sul­ta­tion at 610=327-2600 or email your ques­tions to mishockpt@com­cast.net.

We can help!

Visit our web­site, mishockpt.com, to read more phys­i­cal ther­apy re­lated ar­ti­cles, learn more about our treat­ment phi­los­o­phy, our phys­i­cal ther­apy staff and our six con­ve­nient lo­ca­tions in Gil­bertsville, Skip­pack, Barto, Phoenixville, Lim­er­ick and Stowe.

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