In another study, looking at 546 athletes from Kentucky, specialized female basketball, soccer and volleyball players had a 50% higher chance of overuse knee pain. And it’s not just physical, early specialization is also associated with psychological burnout, reported The Washington Post on 4 August.
According to Stacey Schley, a physician and co-author on the article and Female Athlete Program fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, youth athletes should train fewer hours per week than their age.
“So, if they’re 12 years old, we know that if they train more than 12 hours per week, that also increases their risk of overuse injury,” Schley said.
Doing other sports or activities as a family can be helpful, as well, added Kristin Wingfield, a sports medicine physician at UCSF Medical Center.
Wingfield added “kids shouldn’t be playing up a level or age group, they shouldn’t be playing on several teams at the same time.”
The article added that specializing in one sport develops mastery in a small subset of motor and movement skills but generally falls short of developing the individual as a whole athlete. Playing other sports develops diverse movement skills, ones that can be applied to the original sport.
The article also highlighted a study that showed sport-specialized female athletes displayed biomechanical changes pre- to post-puberty that may increase risk for injury when compared with multisport female athletes.
Specifically, the female athletes who specialized pre-puberty were more likely to land in ways that put extra pressure on their knees.
Click here to read the full report.