October 22, 2019
1 min read

National Athletic Trainers’ Association: Young athletes should sample different sports before single-sport specialization

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The National Athletic Trainers’ Association released recommendations to decrease the risk of injury due to youth sports specialization.

According to a release, the statement was promoted by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society, Professional Soccer Athletic Trainers Society, National Basketball Athletic Trainers’ Association, Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine (ICSM).

The recommendations supported by NATA include the following :

Adolescent and young athletes should sample a variety of sports before specializing in a single sport ;

Young athletes should participate in one organized sport per season ;

Young athletes should not pla y a single sport for more than 8 months per year ;

Young athletes should not participate in a sport for more hours per week than their age ;

Young athletes should have at least 2 days off per week from training and competition ; and

Adolescent athletes should rest and recover at the end of each competitive season.

“Studies show that young athletes often see specialization as a prerequisite to advancing - making the varsity team, earning a college scholarship or progressing to the professional level,” Tory Lindley, MA, ATC, NATA president, said in the release. “When athletes specialize too early, or engage in excessive play, they are increasing the probability of injury and reducing the chances of achieving their goals. We want to help athletes and parents recognize health is a competitive advantage.”

“One of the reported motivators for youth sports specialization is to earn a sports-related college scholarship,” Murphy Grant, MS, ATC, PES, ICSM council chair, said in the release. “A sobering truth is that the probability of a high school student athlete competing at the collegiate level and receiving any form of sports scholarship is about 2%. As youth athletes progress through their respective sports, the top priority should be their mental and physical health and well-being, which can be jeopardized through early youth sports specialization. We support the recommendations announced by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.”