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Sports Health. 2015 Sep-Oct;7(5):437-42. doi: 10.1177/1941738115598747. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Sport Specialization, Part I: Does Early Sports Specialization Increase Negative Outcomes and Reduce the Opportunity for Success in Young Athletes?

Author information

1
Division of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio The Sports Health and Performance Institute, OSU Sports Medicine, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, Massachusetts greg.myer@cchmc.org.
2
Department of Orthopaedics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia Department of Family Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.
3
Division of Sports Medicine and Non-Operative Orthopaedics, Departments of Family Medicine and Orthopaedics, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
4
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey.
5
Division of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio Department of Family Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.
6
Department of Physical Therapy, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
7
The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, Massachusetts Boston Children's Hospital, Department of Orthopaedics, Division of Sports Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

There is increased growth in sports participation across the globe. Sports specialization patterns, which include year-round training, participation on multiple teams of the same sport, and focused participation in a single sport at a young age, are at high levels. The need for this type of early specialized training in young athletes is currently under debate.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION:

Nonsystematic review.

STUDY DESIGN:

Clinical review.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level 4.

CONCLUSION:

Sports specialization is defined as year-round training (greater than 8 months per year), choosing a single main sport, and/or quitting all other sports to focus on 1 sport. Specialized training in young athletes has risks of injury and burnout, while the degree of specialization is positively correlated with increased serious overuse injury risk. Risk factors for injury in young athletes who specialize in a single sport include year-round single-sport training, participation in more competition, decreased age-appropriate play, and involvement in individual sports that require the early development of technical skills. Adults involved in instruction of youth sports may also put young athletes at risk for injury by encouraging increased intensity in organized practices and competition rather than self-directed unstructured free play.

STRENGTH-OF-RECOMMENDATION TAXONOMY SORT:

C.

KEYWORDS:

athletic performance; injury prevention; neuromuscular training; youth sports

PMID:
26502420
PMCID:
PMC4547120
DOI:
10.1177/1941738115598747
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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