Sport Specialization Tied to Injuries in Kids and Teens

Sport Specialization Tied to Injuries in Kids and Teens

New research that looked at children involved in sports has raised a concern about injury risk. When children focus on one sport, rather than playing or participating in a wider array of exercise or sport activities, they are at greater risk of suffering injury. The research study looked at nearly six thousand children below the age of eighteen, and tracked both their injury rates and the sports they participate in.

Children who focused their sport activity to a high level of specialization were nearly twice as likely, eighty-one percent, to suffer an injury classified as overuse. This is an injury that comes because the body is being pushed beyond its ability to heal up between exercise sessions.

A specialized sport adherent is someone who trains or plays in the same sport for eight or more months every year. Most will quit or ignore other sports in favor of their chosen sport. This focus exposes them to repetitive stress injury, as the same muscles or muscle groups are overused and worn down. Children who played a wider variety of sports didn’t have as much overuse injury risk, as their bodies used different muscles at different times.

While the research wasn’t an experiment that controlled for variables, it still indicates that children, coaches, and adults should be aware of the injury risks.

Key Points:

  • 1Children and teens who specialize in one sport may be more likely to get injured than those who play a variety of sports.
  • 2Compared to athletes who played the widest variety of sports, youth who specialized the most were 81 percent more likely to experience an overuse injury.
  • 3The proportion of highly specialized athletes who experienced injuries ranged from about 5 percent to 28 percent across the smaller studies.


Compared to athletes who played the widest variety of sports, youth who specialized the most were 81 percent more likely to experience an overuse injury, the study found.
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