#YouthSportSafety: Early Sports Specialization in Youth Athletes

youth sports julie young

My colleague and Athletic Trainer Julie Young,
pool side and talking about injury prevention
in young swimmers

I’ve been thinking a lot about youth sports specialization lately.

It’s likely the nexus of the Olympics, my reading of the book The Sports Gene, and our own journal’s publication of the AMSSM Position Statement on Youth Sports Specialization and Overuse that has prompted this.

Readers of this blog will recall that I recently profiled the AMSSM Position Statement and interviewed the lead author, Dr. John DiFiori. Likewise, I  recently reviewed the excellent book The Sports Gene, which looks into, among many other things, the application of the ’10 000 hour rule’ to athletes’ pursuit of elite sport excellence.  What does it take to make an Olympian?  Many would argue that part of the answer lies in identifying excellence early, and starting to groom that talent at a young age:  it takes about 10 years to fit in those 10 000 hours of dedicated practice.   These forces are at least part of what drive the growing phenomenon of youth sports specialization.

I have a professional bias toward this line of thinking, of course:  I practice clinical pediatric sports medicine, and most of my research interests lie in keeping kids safe and active.

For instance, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) and the YMCA of Central Ohio recently paired up to release a couple of educational videos on the Education and Prevention of Overuse Injuries in Youth Swimmers and the Risks for Early Specialization in Youth Swimmers.  The task combined my interests in youth sports and swimming (I am a member of the USA Swimming Sports Medicine Task Force).  It was a lot of fun working with folks like Julie Young, a swimmer and athletic trainer at NCH with whom I work and do research.  Click on the links to those videos and let me know what you think.

CJSM has made quite an effort over the years to profile high quality research that looks at the phenomena that impact youth sports.   Read more of this post

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