Updated: Jan 26
One Sport or Two? How Does this Impact my Youth Athlete?
Youth sports injuries have been on the rise in recent years, and one of the key factors that contribute to this trend is the increased specialization in youth athletics. Young athletes who focus on just one sport are more likely to experience injuries than those who participate in multiple sports. In fact athletes who specialize in one sport early are 70 - 125% more likely to sustain an injury. Opinions vary on just what the true percentage is but Loyola University and Dr. Neeru Jayanthi found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. In their study of 1200 youth athletes those who specialized were 70 to 93 percent more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports. This article will examine the elevated increase of injuries for a one sport youth athlete versus a two sport athlete. It will also discuss how speed, strength, and agility can mitigate risks, and in most cases produce stronger, faster and more sound athletes.
One of the main reasons for the increased risk of injury in one sport athletes is the repetitive nature of their training. When young athletes focus on just one sport, they are exposed to the same motions and movements over and over again, which can lead to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are basically micro traumas to the ligaments, tendons, bones and joints. These types of injuries can be especially debilitating for young athletes, as they can cause long-term damage and impede future athletic performance. Another factor that contributes to the increased risk of injury in one sport athletes is the lack of physical diversity in their training. Young athletes who specialize in one sport typically do not have the opportunity to work on different skills and develop different areas of their bodies. This lack of diversity leads to imbalances and weaknesses in the body, which can increase the risk of injury.
On the other hand, youth athletes who participate in multiple sports are exposed to a wider range of motions and movements, which can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries, fatigue and mental burnout. Mental fatigue is also an overlooked aspect of the game. Taking a break from one activity to focus on another has been proven to create stronger mental health, and helps heal the body from the inside out. The fact that kids who play multiple sports produce better more sound athletes is probably no surprise to you. Several NFL, and NBA coaches actually prefer it. In a recent report 30 of the 32 top NFL draftees where dual sport athletes in high school. The bigger question becomes not if playing more than one sport is better, but how can I accomplish this in today's youth sports climate? We won't dive too deep into todays youth sports scene as that is a rabbit hole all in itself. With academics becoming more challenging than ever, travel sports at an all time high, how can my athlete play more than one sport as there is only 24 hours in a day. In most cases the answer is you can not. For example, if you play tennis, soccer or basketball at a high level chances are you have practice 3-4 times per week and games on the weekend. You compete year around and in some cases you play for more than one team. The list of reasons can go on and on. Studies show you do have a valid alternative. Professional sports performance training can not only limit your child's risk of injury, but if done properly it can eliminate it all together.
Speed, strength, and agility training has been proven to limit injuries in one sport athletes. By improving an athlete's overall physical condition, and through various forms of training you can not only limit your risk you can alleviate it all together. Speed training can improve an athlete's reaction time and quickness, which can help to prevent injuries on the field or court. Strength training can help to improve an athlete's overall power and endurance, which helps to prevent overuse injuries. Agility training can help to improve an athlete's balance and coordination, which can help to prevent injuries caused by falls or collisions. This type of regimen cross-trains the body while also allowing the mind to reset.
In conclusion, the elevated increase of injuries for a one sport youth athlete versus a two sport youth athlete is due to the repetitive nature of their training and lack of physical diversity. Speed, strength, and agility training can help to limit injuries in one sport athletes by improving their overall physical condition and reducing the risk of injury. It's important for young athletes and their parents to understand the benefits of participating in multiple sports and the potential risks associated with specializing too early in one sport.