Multiple studies have found a rising risk of injury for players who specialize early.

 

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

High school coaches seem to be distancing themselves from the long-held belief that specializing in one sport creates better players. Perhaps there’s a reason for that.

Multiple studies have found a rising risk of injury for players who specialize early. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine issued a consensus statement last year that took note of both trends.

For the latest study, the researchers surveyed nearly 3,100 high school, collegiate and professional athletes. The professionals were hockey and baseball players. The other athletes were in multiple sports.

Nearly 68 percent of current college athletes surveyed had specialized in a single sport in their childhood or teenage years. That compared with about 46 percent of the high school players questioned and nearly 50 percent of the pros.

The current high schoolers said they narrowed their training and participation to a single sport about two years earlier than the older groups had. The high schoolers reported that they specialized on average at about 12.5 years of age, compared with 14.8 for collegiate athletes and 14.1 for professionals. Nearly 40 percent of the high school students and about 42 percent of the collegiate players said they had experienced a sports-related injury, compared with only about 25 percent of the pros who participated.

 

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Dan Guttenplan