Unorganized sports may help young athletes avoid injury: study

Maywood, IL – Engaging in unorganized free play, such as pick-up games, may help protect young athletes from injury, according to a study from Loyola University in Chicago.

Researchers studied 891 young patients – of whom 618 were treated for injuries and 273 were for uninjured and received physicals – at Loyola University Health System and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. They found injured young athletes who played one sport spent less time playing recreationally than their uninjured counterparts.

Injured tennis players logged 12.6 hours per week of organized play and 2.4 hours of free play, compared with 9.7 hours of organized play and 4.3 hours of free play among uninjured tennis players, a press release stated. Similar results were found when comparing injured tennis players to uninjured players of all sports.

The study was presented in January at the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science and United States Tennis Association-Tennis Medicine and Injury Conference in Atlanta.

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