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Pressures on Rooney - a rising star
Around the Academy:

Rooney's 25-yard wonder goal ended Arsenal's unbeaten run

Everton's footballing superstar Wayne Rooney has been in fine form and has scored a load more spectacular goals.

The 17-year-old has been a revelation for both club and country and his manager David Moyes feels he is ready to shine on the domestic and international stages.

There's already plenty of pressure on the teenager's shoulders, so how can he avoid growing up too quickly in football's fastlane?

Dr Kevin Thompson of the English Institute of Sport explains:

SA: Why so big so soon?

Some people develop sooner than others, it is as simple as that.

With young athletes like Wayne, coaches become aware of early signs of puberty as their muscles and bones begin to develop significantly...and yes the voice gets deeper!

This is due to a sudden surge in a hormone called testosterone.

Everton's youth team coach Colin Harvey
Colin Harvey has guided Wayne

Puberty is an important signal for coaches, as is the time when a young player's growth rate reaches a peak.

At this stage skill, speed and recovery from playing can suffer, but this is a temporary situation while the muscles catch up with the bone growth. After this stage, the coach can look to develop strength and speed training more seriously.

The biggest concern with young athletes is whether early developers between the ages of 12 and 16 will keep this growth up.

In some cases, boys who are successful at their sport at 12-13-years-old due to early physical development can get left behind at 16-17-years-old as late developers physically overtake them.

SA: So it's vital for coaches to be fully aware of these changes?

Most Premiership clubs will have physiologists and fitness instructors who carry out what is known as Anthropometric analysis.

This is where coaches will measure height, limb-length and weight every so often, so that they can monitor when the large growth spurts in the body are occurring.

When these spurts are identified the coaches can then plan the exercise around this information, by making sure the player takes on a level of exercise or training that they think he can handle.

SA: What about the danger of over-developing the body?

Monitoring the body in this way is not an exact science, but we do know that over-developing the muscles before the bones are fully developed is harmful.

Rooney tussles with Silvestre of Manchester United
Rooney has burst onto the scene!

A classic injury among young footballers comes from the overdevelopment of the thigh muscles.

This can cause knee injuries and hamstring strains when kicking the ball.

This is why the regular measurement of the player and the strict control of his level of exercise is so important.

For example, if a youngster plays too many matches then there is not enough time left to develop skills or physical attributes. This can limit the development of the young player.

In many sports the advice is for a 12-year-old to compete in 12 competitions per year and a 13-year-old, up to 13 competitions and so on.

It is about building the level of exercise up gradually to a level where that person can safely cope with the pressure on their frame.

SA: What's burn-out?

Burn-out is more of a psychological area of research and basically means too much too soon.

The player or athlete may feel that they are missing out or making too much of a sacrifice and so they begin to enjoy their sport less.

A balance between sport and other aspects of life needs to be promoted.

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Open Quote
I played against Ryan Giggs when I was with Chorley Schoolboys and I don't think it is overstating the fact to say Wayne can have the same impact - if he keeps his feet on the ground.
Close Quote
David Unsworth
Everton defender

Wayne Rooney factfile
Date of birth: 24 October, 1985
Place of birth: Liverpool
Age: 17
Teams: Everton, England U-15, U-16, U-17, U-18
Squad number: 18
Premiership debut: August 17, Everton 2-2 Tottenham
First Premiership goal: 19 October, Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Teams: Everton, England U-15, U-16, U-17, U-18
England caps: Three

Open Quote
Obviously we don't want him falling by the wayside in any way. We've just got to make sure he gets to play in Everton's first team and we see the fruits of that.
Close Quote
Colin Harvey
Everton youth team coach

:: Everton FC

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