Early Single-Sport Specialization: A Survey of 3090 High School, Collegiate, and Professional Athletes.

Abstract

Background:

Youth participation in organized sports in the United States is rising, with many athletes focusing on a single sport at an increasingly younger age.

Purpose:

To retrospectively compare single-sport specialization in current high school (HS), collegiate, and professional athletes with regard to the rate and age of specialization, the number of months per year of single-sport training, and the athlete’s perception of injury related to specialization.

Study Design:

Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods:

A survey was distributed to HS, collegiate, and professional athletes prior to their yearly preparticipation physical examination. Athletes were asked whether they had chosen to specialize in only 1 sport, and data were then collected pertaining to this decision.

Results:

A total of 3090 athletes completed the survey (503 HS, 856 collegiate, and 1731 professional athletes). A significantly greater percentage of current collegiate athletes specialized to play a single sport during their childhood/adolescence (45.2% of HS athletes, 67.7% of collegiate athletes, and 46.0% of professional athletes; P < .001). The age of single-sport specialization differed between groups and occurred at a mean age of 12.7 ± 2.4 (HS), 14.8 ± 2.5 (collegiate), and 14.1 ± 2.8 years (professional) (P < .001). Current HS (39.9%) and collegiate athletes (42.1%) recalled a statistically greater incidence of sport-related injury than current professional athletes (25.4%) (P < .001). The majority (61.7%) of professional athletes indicated that they believed specialization helps the athlete play at a higher level, compared with 79.7% of HS and 80.6% of collegiate athletes (P < .001). Notably, only 22.3% of professional athletes said they would want their own child to specialize to play only 1 sport during childhood/adolescence.

Conclusion:

This study provides a foundation for understanding current trends in single-sport specialization in all athletic levels. Current HS athletes specialized, on average, 2 years earlier than current collegiate and professional athletes surveyed. These data challenge the notion that success at an elite level requires athletes to specialize in 1 sport at a very young age.

Keywords: sports specialization, youth, single sport, injury 


Autor / Fonte:Patrick S Buckley, Meghan Bishop, Patrick Kane, Michael C Ciccotti, Stephen Selverian, Dominique Exume, William Emper, Kevin B Freedman, Sommer Hammoud, Steven B Cohen, Michael G Ciccotti Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 2017, 5 (7): 232596711770394
Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5536378/pdf/10.1177_2325967117703944.pdf