As reported by Bill Pennington in the February 22, 2005 edition of The New York Times, “Dr. Lyle Micheli, a pioneer in the field of treating youth sports injuries and director of the sports medicine division of Boston Children’s Hospital, said that 25 years ago, only 10 percent of the patients he treated came to him for injuries caused by overuse…. overuse injuries now represented 70 percent of the cases he sees.” Dr. Micheli said, “By playing one sport year-round, there is no rest and recovery for the overused parts of their body. Parents think they are maximizing their child’s chances by concentrating on one sport.”

On July 3, 2006, Akilah Imani Nelson of The State (Columbia, SC) reported on the benefits of “varied athletic endeavors” (with some rest) over the course of a year vs. the overuse injury risks of year-round single-sport participation:

“‘Participation in multiple sports over the course of a year is not harmful, and in many cases makes the athlete more well-rounded in their skills,’ said Dr. Jeffrey Dugas, of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine…. Approximately 4.8 million youth athletes suffer overuse injuries — also called repetitive use injuries — each year nationwide, according to [the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine]. The injuries are most commonly seen in athletes who specialize in one sport. But risk also exists for the multi-sport athlete who pairs sports that strain the same muscle.

… doctors offer three points to remember to keep multiple-sport athletes healthy:

– Pain, limited range of motion, loss of function or loss of sensation never should be ignored. Athletes, parents and coaches should identify and seek medical help for such issues as soon as possible.

– Children can handle multi-sport participation whenever they are able to handle the requirements of the sport without pain or loss of function.

– The number and intensity of practices a body can handle depends on age, physique and sport, which is why it is important coaches are certified to use age-appropriate conditioning techniques and drills.”

A July 3, 2006 column by John Gambadoro for the Arizona Republic‘s online affiliate,, spoke to the role of parents in the specialization of kids sports:

“… today in the era of specialization our children are being forced to pick one sport at an early age and stick with that sport. There are club sports, private lessons, camps, training programs and nutritionists for kids – and there is the cost. Some club sports can cost upwards of $1,000 for a season, and that’s not counting the traveling to tournaments in different states.

… In an effort to keep up with the kids that are playing year round parents are realizing that if they want their kid to have a chance at making that junior high or high school team than they have to follow suit. Sign up for the club team, go to camps, and get personal training. If you don’t than your kid is behind the 8-ball. Behind the other children that are playing year round. It’s a cycle that seems to have no end. There are issues with this philosophy such as injuries and burnout. Parents need to be aware of those things. They need to know when to pull back, when to shut a kid down. The body does need time to rest and time to heal. And kids need time to be with friends outside of the fields.”


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.