Teenage Girls and Sports

With the increase of teenage female athletes, age 13 to 18, playing sports now days, parents need to look hard and long at the pros and cons that accompany the fun. These pros and cons exist with all sports, not just one or even just a few. There is no sport that any tyoung female athlete participates in that does not have pros and cons. Parents need to keep this in mind when they give the approval for their child to participate.

The cons are usually what these parents of teenage female athletes find the most interesting. How will this sport affect their child? The cons are generally injuries, including knee and hamstring injuries, anorexia, amenorrhea and osteoporosis. Knee and hamstring injuries are 3-4 more times likely in young female athletes than in young male athletes. Knee injuries are generally a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which is considered a serious knee injury, usually requiring surgery. Knee and hamstring injuries are generally due to the muscle pattern around the knee. To prevent these injuries, hamstring curls recommended as a part of any warm up routine. Anorexia, an eating disorder and amenorrhea, the lack of a period, and osteoporosis are all prevented by eating a well balanced diet. One last con that is occurring more and more among teenage female athletes is the use of steroids. Steroids are being used by girls to make them bigger and stronger on the playing field, which is the same reason boys often use them. The side effects caused by steroids include severe acne, smaller breasts, deeper voice, irregular periods, excess facial and body hair, depression and paranoia. Using steroids also puts these young female athletes at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and some forms of cancer. The good news about the cons of teenage female athletes and sports is that all these problems are preventable with care and precaution.

There are also pros that these parents of teenage female athletes should be aware of as well. These pros include better grades, higher test scores, lower dropout rates, more girls attending college, healthier girls, and a reduced risk for obesity. More pros are that sports build greater peak bone mass, reduce adult osteoporosis, reduce adult coronary heart disease and reduce cancer risks. Still more pros are that the young female athletes have a more positive body image, have improved self esteem, have increased self-confidence, helps reduce symptoms of stress and depression and increases muscular strength. Sports can also become mood enhancers and anxiety reducers, which can definitely be a good thing in a young girl’s world.

Parents of teenage female athletes can easily see that the pros out number the cons, but should always keep these cons in the back of their head and watch for them. If the child begins to show signs of one or more of these cons, it is time to make a change to correct it. Even with pros and cons in mind, there are valid reasons that girls take part in sports. These reasons are that they enjoy competition, their body image is improved, they have socialization opportunities, their sports skills are improved and of course, they do it for fun.

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