ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Specialization in young athletes has been linked to overuse injuries, burnout, and decreased satisfaction. Despite continued opposition from the medical community, epidemiological studies suggest the frequency is increasing. HYPOTHESIS:Extrinsic pressures in addition to individual aspirations drive this national trend in sports specialization. STUDY DESIGN:Descriptive epidemiology study. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level 3. METHODS:A novel instrument assessing the driving factors behind youth specialization was generated by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals. Surveys were administered to patients and athletes in the department's sports medicine clinic. RESULTS:The survey was completed by 235 athletes between 7 and 18 years of age, with a mean age of 13.8 ± 3.0 years. Athletes specialized at a mean age of 8.1 years, and 31% of athletes played a single sport while 58% played multiple sports but had a preferred sport. More than 70% of athletes had collegiate or professional ambitions, and 60% played their primary sport for 9 or more months per year, with players who had an injury history more likely to play year-round ( P < 0.01). Approximately one-third of players reported being told by a coach not to participate in other sports, with specialized athletes reporting this significantly more often ( P = 0.04). Half of the athletes reported that sports interfered with their academic performance, with older players stating this more frequently ( P < 0.01). CONCLUSION:Young athletes are increasingly specializing in a single sport before starting high school. While intrinsic drive may identify healthy aspirations, extrinsic influences are prevalent in specialized athletes. CLINICAL RELEVANCE:Extrinsic factors contributing to youth specialization were identified and compounded the deleterious sequelae of youth athlete specialization.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Significant evidence has emerged that sport specialization is associated with an increased risk of overuse injury in youth athletes. Several recommendations exist to reduce the risk of overuse injury in youth sports, but the risk of overuse injuries may be dependent on specific movements required by a given sport. HYPOTHESES:Associations between specialized sport participation and overuse injury will exist in volleyball athletes but not soccer or basketball athletes. Female athletes will be more likely to report an overuse injury in the previous year, regardless of sport. STUDY DESIGN:Cross-sectional study. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level 3. METHODS:Youth athletes between the ages of 12 and 18 years were recruited in-person at club team tournaments, competitions, and events around the state of Wisconsin during the 2016-2017 school year. Participants were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire that consisted of (1) participant demographics, (2) sport specialization status, (3) monthly and weekly sport volume, and (4) sport-related injury history in the previous year. RESULTS:A total of 716 youth athletes completed the questionnaire (70.8% female; mean age, 14.21 ± 1.50 years; 43.2% basketball, 19.4% soccer, 37.4% volleyball; 41.8% highly specialized; 32.3% reported overuse injury in the previous year). Sex was associated with overuse injury among basketball athletes, with female basketball athletes nearly 4 times more likely to report an overuse injury compared with male basketball athletes (odds ratio, [OR], 3.7; 95% CI, 2.1-6.6; P < 0.001). High specialization (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.1-4.9; P = 0.02) and participating in a single sport for more than 8 months per year (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1-3.5; P < 0.05) were associated with overuse injury only among volleyball athletes. CONCLUSION:Specialization and exceeding 8 months per year in a single sport was associated with overuse injury in volleyball, which is one of the most popular youth sports for female athletes. Specialization was not associated with overuse injury in basketball or soccer athletes. Female basketball athletes were nearly 4 times more likely to report a history of overuse injury compared with male basketball athletes. The sex of a youth athlete and the sport that he or she plays may influence the risk of overuse injury associated with sport specialization. CLINICAL RELEVANCE:Youth athletes, parents, and clinicians should be aware that the potential risks of specialization might vary based on the athlete's sport and sex.
Project description:BACKGROUND::Pediatric sports specialization, defined as intense year-round training in a single sport as a result of excluding other sports for more than 8 months per year, is common in the United States. There are demonstrated physical and social risks to early pediatric sports specialization (defined as before age 12 years). While thought to be needed to acquire appropriate experience and excel in a given sport, there remains little information on when athletes at the highest levels of their sport specialized. This study aimed to define when professional and collegiate ice hockey players specialized. HYPOTHESIS::Early sports specialization before age 12 years will not be common among elite-level (professional and collegiate) ice hockey players. STUDY DESIGN::Retrospective cross-sectional survey study. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE::Level 3. METHODS::Male professional and collegiate ice hockey players within 1 National Hockey League organization and 2 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) organizations who were 18 years of age or older completed a survey at training camp detailing their history of sports participation and specialization. RESULTS::A total of 91 athletes participated in the study (mean age, 22.8 years; range, 18-39 years). The mean age at the start of any sports participation was 4.5 years, and the mean age of sports specialization was 14.3 years. The mean age of specialization in the professional group, the NCAA Division I group, and the NCAA Division III group was 14.1, 14.5, and 14.6 years, respectively. CONCLUSION::Early pediatric sports specialization is not common in elite-level (professional and collegiate) ice hockey players. CLINICAL RELEVANCE::Early pediatric sports specialization before age 12 years is not necessary for athletic success in professional and collegiate ice hockey. This study provides further evidence supporting the recommendations of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine against early sports specialization.
Project description:Youth participation in organized sports in the United States is rising, with many athletes focusing on a single sport at an increasingly younger age.To retrospectively compare single-sport specialization in current high school (HS), collegiate, and professional athletes with regard to the rate and age of specialization, the number of months per year of single-sport training, and the athlete's perception of injury related to specialization.Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.A survey was distributed to HS, collegiate, and professional athletes prior to their yearly preparticipation physical examination. Athletes were asked whether they had chosen to specialize in only 1 sport, and data were then collected pertaining to this decision.A total of 3090 athletes completed the survey (503 HS, 856 collegiate, and 1731 professional athletes). A significantly greater percentage of current collegiate athletes specialized to play a single sport during their childhood/adolescence (45.2% of HS athletes, 67.7% of collegiate athletes, and 46.0% of professional athletes; P < .001). The age of single-sport specialization differed between groups and occurred at a mean age of 12.7 ± 2.4 (HS), 14.8 ± 2.5 (collegiate), and 14.1 ± 2.8 years (professional) (P < .001). Current HS (39.9%) and collegiate athletes (42.1%) recalled a statistically greater incidence of sport-related injury than current professional athletes (25.4%) (P < .001). The majority (61.7%) of professional athletes indicated that they believed specialization helps the athlete play at a higher level, compared with 79.7% of HS and 80.6% of collegiate athletes (P < .001). Notably, only 22.3% of professional athletes said they would want their own child to specialize to play only 1 sport during childhood/adolescence.This study provides a foundation for understanding current trends in single-sport specialization in all athletic levels. Current HS athletes specialized, on average, 2 years earlier than current collegiate and professional athletes surveyed. These data challenge the notion that success at an elite level requires athletes to specialize in 1 sport at a very young age.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The effect of socioeconomic status (SES) on rates of sports specialization and injury among youth athletes has not been described previously. HYPOTHESIS:Young athletes from lower socioeconomic status will have lower rates of sports specialization and subsequently lower risk of overuse injuries. STUDY DESIGN:Cohort study. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level 3. METHODS:Injured athletes aged 7 to 18 years were recruited from 2 hospital-based sports medicine clinics and compared with uninjured athletes presenting for sports physicals at primary care clinics between 2010 and 2013. Participants completed surveys on training patterns. Electronic medical records provided injury details as well as patient zip code, race, and health insurance type. SES was estimated from zip codes. The sample was divided into SES tertiles. Analysis of variance and multivariate regression were used for continuous variables, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to explore relationships between risk factors and injury. RESULTS:Of 1190 athletes surveyed, 1139 (96%) had satisfactory SES data. Compared with low-SES athletes, high-SES athletes reported more hours per week spent playing organized sports (11.2 ± 6.0 vs 10.0 ± 6.5; P = 0.02), trained more months per year in their main sport (9.7 ± 3.1 vs 7.6 ± 3.7; P < 0.01), were more often highly specialized (38.9% vs 16.6%; P < 0.01), and had increased participation in individual sports (64.8% vs 40.0%; P < 0.01). The proportion of athletes with a greater than 2:1 ratio of weekly hours in organized sports to free play increased with SES. Accounting for age and weekly organized sports hours, the odds of reporting a serious overuse injury increased with SES (odds ratio, 1.5; P < 0.01). CONCLUSION:High-SES athletes reported more serious overuse injuries than low-SES athletes, potentially due to higher rates of sports specialization, more hours per week playing organized sports, higher ratio of weekly hours in organized sports to free play, and greater participation in individual sports. CLINICAL RELEVANCE:As SES increases, young athletes report higher degrees of sports specialization, greater participation in individual sports, and more serious overuse injuries.
Project description:Training in elite sport aims at the optimization of the athletic performance, and to control the athletes`progress in physiological, anthropometrical and motor performance prerequisites. However, in most sports, the value of longitudinal testing is unclear. This study evaluates the longitudinal development and the influence of intense training over 2-years on specific physiological performance prerequisites, as well as certain body dimensions and motor abilities in elite youth athletes. Recruited between 11-13 years of age at Shanghai Elite Sport school, the sample of student-athletes (N = 21) was categorized as the swimming group (10 athletes), and the racket sports group (11 players: 7 table tennis and 4 badminton players). The performance monitoring took place over two years between September 2016 and September 2018 and included 5 test waves. In all the test waves, the athletes were assessed by means of three physiological measurements (vital capacity, hemoglobin concentration, heart rate at rest), three anthropometric parameters (body height, body weight, chest girth), and two motor tests (back strength, complex reaction speed). Seven out of eight diagnostic methods exhibit medium to high validity to discriminate between the different levels of performance development in the two sports groups. The investigated development of the performance characteristics is attributed partly to the inherited athletic disposition as well as to the different sport-specific training regimens of the two sports groups.
Project description:Many elite sport organisations have introduced structured talent identification and development (TID) initiatives in youth sports to better facilitate elite sport performance. However, selection mechanisms for TID programmes (e.g., junior international team) are biased towards relatively older athletes and limited studies exist with Scandinavian contexts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the relative age effect (RAE) in youth, junior and senior male and female international team selections among Norwegian handball players (n = 657). A Chi-square goodness-of-fit test assessed whether a skewed birthdate distribution occurred at the youth, junior and senior international team levels and odds-ratios were calculated for RAE distribution. Moreover, a Kruskal-Wallis test was used to assess differences between the number of international youth, junior and senior level appearances by birth quartiles. Significant uneven birth date distributions were shown for youth (?2(7) = female 40.383 and male 105.716, p <0.001) and junior (?2(7) = female 27.427 and male 30.948, p <0.001) international players, favouring the relatively older player (odds-ratio of 1.9-8.3). At the senior level, no uneven distribution was identified. The comparison of the number of matches in each age category and the quartile of birth showed a difference in the women's youth category, where players in quartile 8 had a significantly lower number of appearances compared to quartile 1. The results form part of a growing body of knowledge about selection mechanisms in sport, which favours relatively older athletes within Norwegian Handball. Such findings are important for policy and practice for informing TID programmes for inclusive selection opportunities for all players.
Project description:Researchers in sport often try to investigate relations between athletes' psychological skills and their sports results to predict top athletic achievements or unexpectedly poor performances. The Psychology Skills Inventory for Sports (Youth version), PSIS-Y, was developed to measure psychological characteristics of young athletes-differentiating well more talented and less talented young athletes. Nevertheless, previous studies revealed its inadequate, factorial validity. Thus, the aim of this study was to develop and investigate the psychometric proprieties of a brief version of the PSIS-Y (PSIS-Y-SF) in a sample of young Croatian athletes. Participants (n = 304; 188 females and 116 male) were recruited in clubs/teams all over Croatia and all of them competed in the Croatian Championship in youth (n = 157) and junior category (n = 147). The PSIS-Y-SF was derived by ten expert psychologists with five of them who had past experiences of agonistic sport practice. Psychometric analysis included Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), internal consistency analysis (Raykov's Maximal Reliability), and correlation between subscales. Moreover, Multivariate Analyses of Variance (MANOVA) was run to test statistical differences between the players' categories (male youth vs. male junior vs. female youth vs. female junior) in all of the subscales. Results of the CFA suggested the adequateness of the supposed six first-order factor solution for the PSIS-Y-SF. The Maximal Reliability statistics suggest a good internal consistency for all of the subscales and the MANOVA suggested differences between the player's categories. The PSIS-Y-SF resulted to be a valid and reliable tool for the assessment of sports psychological skills. Findings from the psychometric evaluation of PSIS-Y-SF suggest that this is a useful tool, which may further assist in the measurement and conceptualization of sport psychological skills.
Project description:Previous studies on athletes' cognitive functions have reported superior performance on tasks measuring attention and sensorimotor abilities. However, how types of sports training shapes cognitive profile remains to be further explored. In this study, we recruited elite athletes specialized in badminton (N = 35, female = 12) and volleyball (N = 29, female = 13), as well as healthy adult controls (N = 27, female = 17) who had not receive any regular sports training. All participants completed cognitive assessments on spatial attention, sensory memory, cognitive flexibility, motor inhibition, and the attention networks. The results showed that athletes generally showed superior performance on selective cognitive domains compared to healthy controls. Specifically, compared to the healthy control, volleyball players showed superior on iconic memory, inhibitory control of action, and attentional alerting, whereas badminton players showed advantages on iconic memory and basic processing speed. Overall, volleyball players outperformed badminton players on those tasks require stimulus-driven visual attention and motor inhibition, likely due to different training modalities and characteristics of specialty that involves even more complex cognitive processes. To conclude, our findings suggest cognitive plasticity may drive by sports training in team/individual sports expertise, manifesting cognitive profile in sport expertise with distinct training modalities.
Project description:Background:Youth athletes are under increasing pressures to excel in their chosen sport and many turn to nutritional supplements in order to enhance sports performance. However, athletes may obtain their nutritional information via illegitimate sources such as the internet, media, and other athletes, representing miscommunication between sound scientific information and anecdotal experiences. The objective of this investigation was to examine nutrition knowledge of elite youth athletes from a non-residential regional academy of sport. Methods:A previously validated two-part nutrition knowledge questionnaire (NKQ) was administered to 101 (37 male and 64 female) non-residential regional Academy of Sport elite youth athletes at an annual training camp. Part 1 of the NKQ presented demographic questions. Part 2 presented 90 sports nutrition knowledge questions in seven knowledge subcategories (1) Nutrients; (2) Dietary reference intakes (DRI); (3) Fluids/Hydration; (4) Recovery; (5) Weight gain; (6) Weight loss; and (7) Supplements. Results:The mean NKQ score of all athletes was 43.8% (± 11.4). No gender differences observed between nutritional knowledge total scores, however female athletes recorded more 'correct' responses than males (p =?0.02) in the Nutrients subcategory. Majority of athletes had difficulty identifying correct DRI with this subcategory featuring the lowest percentage of 'correct' to 'incorrect' responses (27.1% ±?2.3; p =?0.02). Supplements subcategory displayed much uncertainty with significantly more 'unsure' than 'incorrect' responses (42.4% ±?20.3; p <?0.05). Conclusions:In agreement with previous research, results of the current study indicate that elite youth athletes lack fundamental nutritional knowledge, specifically related to DRI and supplementation. These data provide further support of current recommendations that Academy of Sport youth athletes may benefit from integrated nutrition education conducted by qualified nutrition professionals.
Project description:The study of anxiety, specifically its relations with sociodemographic variables, has been fruitfull in sport psychology research. This study aimed to investigate athletes' sport anxiety regarding differences in gender and sport played. An application of structural equation modeling was made, with 601 Portuguese athletes. From them 172 (28.6%) were female and 429 (71.4%) were male. They competed in a variety of individual (e.g., athletics, climbing, orienteering, surfing, swimming, tennis; 42.6%) and team sports (e.g., basketball, handball, rugby, soccer, volleyball; 57.4%). Participants' age ranged from 12 to 47 years (M = 17.44 years; SD = 4.99). After testing the measurement invariance of the first and second-order models, across gender and type of sport (individual vs. team), latent mean comparisons were investigated and Cohen's d (1988) statistic was computed to obtain the corresponding effect sizes (Kline, 2016). Significant differences were detected between male and female athletes and between individual and team sports. Female and individual sports athletes presented higher levels of general sports anxiety.The results of this research provided evidence that anxiety is appraised differently by athletes based on their gender and type of sport.