Young Athletes Who Specialize In Single Sport May Raise Risk of Overuse Injury Interview with:
Jacqueline Pasulka, OMS II
Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine , Des Moines , IA
Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago , Chicago , IL What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In this study young athletes were recruited from both sports medicine and general practice clinics and were asked to complete surveys reporting on their sports participation, training patterns, and any sports-related injuries they had over the previous six months. We focused this study on the subset of athletes who met the criteria for being a single-sport specialized athlete based on their reported participation in only one sport and training for eight months or more during the year for that sport. Athletes participating in individual sports were more likely to be single-sport specialized than their team sport peers, and they also reported an earlier age at which they began specializing in their sport. Additionally, injury types differed among these two groups as single-sport specialized athletes in individual sport athletes had a greater proportion of overuse injuries, while single-sport specialized athletes in team sport athletes had a greater proportion of acute injuries. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Young athletes who specialize in an individual sport may be at a greater risk for overuse injuries than their peers who specialize in a team sport. These athletes also reported an earlier age of specialization and higher weekly training volumes than their peers who specialize in team sports. It is important to identify these athletes who may be at greater risk for overuse injuries so that clinical recommendations can be made to help reduce their risk for injury. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study has relatively small sample sizes of athletes participating solely in each of the team and individual sports. Future research focused on larger cohorts of young athletes who participate only in one sport will increase understanding of injury patterns and training risks involved with specialization in a specific sport. Such research could aid in creating specific clinical recommendations for highly specialized athletes, as well as provide guidance for neuromuscular training that could enhance performance while decreasing injury risk. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Phys Sportsmed. 2017 Apr 10:1-9. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2017.1313077. [Epub ahead of print]

Specialization patterns across various youth sports and relationship to injury risk.

Pasulka J1,2, Jayanthi N3,4, McCann A4, Dugas LR5, LaBella C1,6.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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