Concern has been expressed by parents, coaches and administrators, regarding the effects that prolonged intensive training may have upon the physical and psychological development of young athletes, but it is only recently that research has started to address these issues and in so doing has begun to document the extent of positive or negative effects. Although the findings remain inconclusive, many people still express a 'gut feeling' that the current emphasis on intense involvement in youth sport is in some way detrimental to the young athlete. Even without evidence that it is harmful, the Council of Europe recommended that specialisation in sport is not advisable while there is a lack of information on the biological consequences for the child's growth and development.
This report focuses on the effects of intensive training on the physical and psychological health of young athletes participating in the Training of Young Athletes (TOYA) study. Possible areas of physical and emotional vulnerability for the young athlete, identified by coaches and sports scientists, are compared with the actual experiences of children taking part in intensive training routines.
A review of the research literature indicates potential areas of physical and emotional vulnerability for the young athlete. These include sports-related health problems, injuries and emotional disorders. As far as the latter are concerned, there has been particular concern about the rate of emotional disorders in young athletes, as well as the rates of anorexia, particularly in gymnasts. It is well established that there is a high rate of eating control problems in students of ballet, although it is difficult to define the condition in this group. There is also some evidence to suggest that gymnasts may be another group at risk.
Editor's comments - [ This (1993) TOYA report focuses particularly on the possible health hazards facing young people in performance sport; from general health to depression, other emotional disorders and eating disorders. ] Reference this?Cryer, J. (2012). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from In the text: Cryer (2012)
Reference : Rowley, S. (1993). Training of young athletes study (TOYA): TOYA and Health. London: Sports Council (GB)
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