Youth sports: Seattle doctor says injuries in young athletes, a whole new ball game

While many debate the culture of youth sports these days, when it comes to injuries, doctors say it's a whole new ball game.

From overuse injuries resulting from kids playing one sport year-round to kids starting sports at an earlier age, Dr. Steven Anderson, a sports medicine physician in Seattle says he has seen more injuries in young athletes.

The extent and type of injuries depends on the kids and the sport, but Dr. Anderson says he probably sees the most injuries in youth soccer.  That may be because kids play all year round and there are more kids playing that sport in terms of numbers.

Dr. Anderson says there are some sports where specialization early is linked to success in young athletes.  Swimming, gymnastics and ballet, for example, are sports when kids compete at high levels starting at an earlier age.  Dr. Anderson warns of specializing in other sports like baseball, soccer or hockey earlier on, because the risk of injuries on growing bodies can leave lasting effects.

Dr. Anderson says when it comes to youth sports, it's important young athletes play multiple sports and rest injuries.   He warns that pushing through pain can lead to health problems later in life, including growth plate problems, tendinitis and chronic pain.