Implications for Training in Youth: Is Specialization Benefiting Kids?

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Abstract

EARLY SPORTS SPECIALIZATION HAS BEEN A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC IN THE FIELD OF SPORTS MEDICINE, TRAINING, AND CONDITIONING. RECENT STUDIES REPORT INCREASED SPORTS-RELATED INJURIES IN SINGLE-SPORT SPECIALIZED ATHLETES COMPARED WITH MULTISPORT SPECIALIZED ATHLETES. TWO STUDIES DEMONSTRATE THE PROPORTIONS OF ATHLETES WHO FOCUSED ON A SINGLE SPORT IN EARLY AGES AND ADVANCED TO ELITE LEVEL IN THEIR LATER CAREERS ARE <1%. FURTHERMORE, PERFORMING MULTIPLE SPORTS WAS IDENTIFIED AS AN INDICATOR FOR GREATER FUTURE ATHLETIC SUCCESS. SYNTHESIZING AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, PARTICIPATING IN MULTIPLE SPORTS SEEMS MORE BENEFICIAL THAN FOCUSING ON A SINGLE SPORT. IT IS IMPORTANT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE RECOVERY TIME FOR PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT ATHLETES BECAUSE THEY ARE IN A GROWTH SPURT PROCESS. FINALLY, BECAUSE A HISTORY OF PREVIOUS INJURY IS EVIDENCED AS A RISK FACTOR FOR FUTURE SPORTS-RELATED INJURIES, PREVENTIVE APPROACHES SUCH AS RESISTANCE TRAINING NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN A TRAINING REGIMEN FOR YOUTH.

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