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Implications for Training in Youth: Is Specialization Benefiting Kids?

Sugimoto, Dai PhD, ATC, CSCS; Stracciolini, Andrea MD; Dawkins, Corey I. MS, ATC; Meehan, William P. III MD; Micheli, Lyle J. MD

Strength & Conditioning Journal: April 2017 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 77–81
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000289
Article

ABSTRACT: EARLY SPORTS SPECIALIZATION HAS BEEN A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC IN THE FIELD OF SPORTS MEDICINE, TRAINING, AND CONDITIONING. RECENT STUDIES REPORT INCREASED SPORTS-RELATED INJURIES IN SINGLE-SPORT SPECIALIZED ATHLETES COMPARED WITH MULTISPORT SPECIALIZED ATHLETES. TWO STUDIES DEMONSTRATE THE PROPORTIONS OF ATHLETES WHO FOCUSED ON A SINGLE SPORT IN EARLY AGES AND ADVANCED TO ELITE LEVEL IN THEIR LATER CAREERS ARE <1%. FURTHERMORE, PERFORMING MULTIPLE SPORTS WAS IDENTIFIED AS AN INDICATOR FOR GREATER FUTURE ATHLETIC SUCCESS. SYNTHESIZING AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, PARTICIPATING IN MULTIPLE SPORTS SEEMS MORE BENEFICIAL THAN FOCUSING ON A SINGLE SPORT. IT IS IMPORTANT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE RECOVERY TIME FOR PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT ATHLETES BECAUSE THEY ARE IN A GROWTH SPURT PROCESS. FINALLY, BECAUSE A HISTORY OF PREVIOUS INJURY IS EVIDENCED AS A RISK FACTOR FOR FUTURE SPORTS-RELATED INJURIES, PREVENTIVE APPROACHES SUCH AS RESISTANCE TRAINING NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN A TRAINING REGIMEN FOR YOUTH.

1The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, Massachusetts;

2Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopedics, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and

3Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Address correspondence to Dr. Dai Sugimoto, dai.sugimoto@childrens.harvard.edu.

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: W. P. Meehan receives royalties from ABC-Clio publishing for the sale of his book, Kids, Sports, and Concussion: A guide for coaches and parents; Springer International for the book Head and Neck Injuries in Young Athlete; and Wolters Kluwer for working as an author for UpToDate. He is under contract with ABC-Clio publishing for a future book entitled, Concussions. His research is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Football League Players Association and by philanthropic support from the National Hockey League Alumni Association through the Corey C. Griffin Pro-Am Tournament. The remaining authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

© 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association