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Parents' Awareness and Perceptions of Sport Specialization and Injury Prevention Recommendations

Bell, David R., PhD, ATC*,†,‡; Post, Eric G., MS, ATC*,†; Trigsted, Stephanie M., PhD, ATC§; Schaefer, Daniel A., MS*,†; McGuine, Timothy A., PhD, ATC; Brooks, Margaret Alison, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000648
Original Research: PDF Only

Objective: To conduct a survey of parents to determine their knowledge of sport volume recommendations and examine their perceptions toward sport specialization.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Youth sport athletic tournaments, competitions, and practices.

Patients or Other Participants: Parents (n = 1000, 614 women, age: 44.5 ± 6.7 years) of youth athletes completed the survey. Parents had to have a child between 10 and 18 years of age who participated in organized sport in the previous 12 months.

Interventions: The survey was anonymous and consisted of yes/no and Likert-scale questions and consisted of background of parent and child and perceptions and knowledge of safe sport recommendations. An expert panel validated the survey.

Main Outcome Measures: Data were summarized by frequencies, proportions (%), and mean values and SDs, when appropriate. Chi-square analyses were used to determine if parent sex influenced distributions.

Results: Over 80% of parents had no knowledge of sport volume recommendations regarding h/wk (84.5%), mo/yr (82.2%), or simultaneous participation in multiple leagues (89.9%). Twenty-four percent of parents considered it appropriate to participate in multiple leagues in the same sport, whereas 60.5% considered it appropriate to participate in multiple leagues of a different sport. Thirty-four percent of parents indicated that they were concerned about the risk of injury in youth sports. Although 55% of parents considered sport specialization a problem in youth sports, only 43.3% thought that year-round sport participation increased the chances of sustaining an overuse injury. Female parents were more likely to be concerned about injury and believe that year-round sport participation results in overuse injury compared with men.

Conclusions: Recommendations associated with youth sport participation are not well known. However, parents are concerned about the risk of injury and consider sport specialization a problem.

*Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin;

Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin;

Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin; and

§High Point University, High Point, North Carolina.

Corresponding Author: David R. Bell, PhD, ATC, 2000 Observatory Drive, 2031 Gymnasium-Natatorium, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, WI 53706 (

Supported by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received November 13, 2017

Accepted June 12, 2018

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