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Early Sport Specialization and Intensive Training in Adolescent Female Athletes: Risks and Recommendations

Blagrove, Richard C. MSc, CSCS1,2; Bruinvels, Georgie BSc (Hons)3,4,5; Read, Paul PhD, CSCS*D6,7

Strength & Conditioning Journal: October 2017 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 14–23
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000315
Article

ABSTRACT: EARLY SPORT SPECIALIZATION IS OFTEN CHARACTERIZED BY INTENSIVE TRAINING AND IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY COMMON. ADOLESCENT FEMALE ATHLETES, WHO TRAIN EXCESSIVELY AND ADOPT POOR DIETS, ARE AT RISK OF THE FEMALE ATHLETE TRIAD, OVERUSE INJURY, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, AND OVERTRAINING. THE OCCURRENCE OF ONE OR MORE OF THESE ISSUES CAN LEAD TO EARLY RETIREMENT FROM SPORT AND MAY HAVE SERIOUS LONG-TERM HEALTH CONSEQUENCES. PRACTITIONERS WORKING WITH YOUNG FEMALES ARE RECOMMENDED TO ADOPT A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR ATHLETES, INCLUDING PARTICIPATION IN A DIVERSE RANGE OF SPORTS, MONITORING HEALTH STATUS, AND ENSURING CALORIC INTAKE MEETS THE DEMANDS OF THE ATHLETE'S LIFESTYLE.

1School of Health Sciences, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom;

2Division of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom;

3Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom;

4School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary's University, Twickenham, United Kingdom;

5Orreco Ltd., National University of Ireland Business Innovation Centre, Galway, Ireland;

6Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar; and

7Youth Physical Development Unit, School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Richard C. Blagrove, richard.blagrove@bcu.ac.uk.

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

Richard C. Blagrove is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Course Leader for the BSc Sport and Exercise Science at Birmingham City University.

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Georgie Bruinvels is a PhD student at University College London and a Research Scientist and Exercise Physiologist at St Mary's University and Orreco.

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Paul Read is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Clinical Researcher at Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital.

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© 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association