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Early sports specialization tied to increased injury rates in college athletes

Date:
March 16, 2019
Source:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Summary:
Sixty million kids participate in organized athletics each year with ever increasing amounts of children specializing in one sport before the age of 14 with hopes of a college scholarship or professional career on the line. However, researchers today reveal that this early intense participation might come at the cost of increased injuries during their athletic careers.
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Sixty million kids participate in organized athletics each year with ever increasing amounts of children specializing in one sport before the age of 14 with hopes of a college scholarship or professional career on the line. However, researchers presenting their work at the AOSSM/AANA Specialty Day today reveal that this early intense participation might come at the cost of increased injuries during their athletic careers.

"Our research indicated that athletes who specialized in their varsity sport before the age of 14 were more likely to report a history of injuries and multiple college injuries during the course of their athletic career," said Brian M. Cash, MD, who co-authored the study along with lead author Seth A. Ahlquist, MD, as well as Sharon L. Hame, MD, all from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The researchers sent a voluntary survey to 652 athletes who participated in athletics at a single institution. Participants were asked about demographics, scholarship status, reasons for sports specialization, age of specialization, training volume, and injury/surgical history. A total of 202 surveys were available for analysis after some were excluded due to incomplete or incorrect survey completion. Injuries were defined as those which kept an athlete out of participation for more than one week. High training volume was defined as greater than 28 hours per week during pre-high school years. 86.9% vs. 74% of individuals who specialized early reported a history of injury, (64.6% vs. 49.4%) reported multiple injuries and these athletes were held out of sport participation an average of 15.2 vs. 7.0 weeks in those that did not specialize early. However, early specializers were also more likely to receive a college scholarship (92.9 vs 83.1%). Full-scholarship athletes were more likely to report multiple surgical injuries (11.7 vs 3.5%).

In addition, those who trained more than 28 hours per week in their varsity sport before high school were more likely to report multiple injuries (90.0 vs. 56.7%). Individuals with a pre-high school training volume greater than 28 hours/week were not more likely to be recruited (90.0 vs. 89%) or receive a scholarship (80% vs. 74.5%).

"Sports participation is an excellent way for kids to maintain their health and possibly even receive a college scholarship. However, our research further highlights that avoiding sports specialization before the age of 14 and minimizing training time to less than 28 hours per week, may significantly minimize a child's injury chances and promote long-term, athletic college or even elite success," said Cash.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Seth Ahlquist, Brian M. Cash, Sharon L. Hame. Associations of Early Sport Specialization and High Training Volume With Injury Rates in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Athletes. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2020; 8 (3): 232596712090682 DOI: 10.1177/2325967120906825

Cite This Page:

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. "Early sports specialization tied to increased injury rates in college athletes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190316162202.htm>.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. (2019, March 16). Early sports specialization tied to increased injury rates in college athletes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190316162202.htm
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. "Early sports specialization tied to increased injury rates in college athletes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190316162202.htm (accessed July 20, 2024).

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