For young athletes, sport specialization means increased risk of injury

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new study finds that kids who specialize in a chosen sport tend to engage in higher levels of vigorous exercise than their peers and may be more likely to sustain injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis and ACL tears.

The findings, which draw from a multi-year, ongoing study of 10,138 older children and teens living throughout the United States, suggest that volume of vigorous activity is a strong predictor of injuries for both boys and girls. In other words, those who engage in the most hours of intense activity per week are the most likely to be injured.

“It’s wonderful for a child to love a sport and to want to engage in it, but we must keep in mind the number of hours spent playing,” said study author Alison Field, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Brown University. “They add up pretty quickly.”

She hopes the study’s conclusions will help coaches, parents and doctors guide young athletes toward less intense, less specialized training. READ MORE