youth sport injuries early specialization vs multi sport athletes alaska coaches clinic 2014 n.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Youth Sport Injuries: Early specialization vs Multi Sport Athletes Alaska Coaches Clinic 2014 PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Youth Sport Injuries: Early specialization vs Multi Sport Athletes Alaska Coaches Clinic 2014

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 65

Youth Sport Injuries: Early specialization vs Multi Sport Athletes Alaska Coaches Clinic 2014 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Youth Sport Injuries: Early specialization vs Multi Sport Athletes Alaska Coaches Clinic 2014. Mark Evans Flanum, MD. Sport Specialization. Intensive year round training in one sport at the exclusion of other sports Early specialization may lead to overuse injury and burnout. Life in 2014.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

Youth Sport Injuries: Early specialization vs Multi Sport Athletes Alaska Coaches Clinic 2014

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
youth sport injuries early specialization vs multi sport athletes alaska coaches clinic 2014

Youth Sport Injuries:Early specialization vs Multi Sport AthletesAlaska Coaches Clinic 2014

Mark Evans Flanum, MD

sport specialization
Sport Specialization

Intensive year round training in one sport at the exclusion of other sports

Early specialization may lead to overuse injury and burnout

life in 2014
Life in 2014
  • Recent contracts for professional athletes for millions of dollars
    • Alex Rodriguez 275 million
  • Youth sports are big business
    • Coaches, personal trainers, club team organizations, sporting goods stores/manufacturers, tournament organizers

Need to balance needs and desires of kids with desires of adults involved

    • Reflected glory
    • Dreams of kids
    • Dreams of adults
alaska loves hockey
Alaska loves hockey
  • My son Noah started playing at age five
  • By age seven, expectation was having him skate five days per week
  • By age nine he decided he was done with hockey “for now”


  • Case presentations
  • Background
  • Definitions
  • Epidemiology
  • Risk factors (intrinsic and extrinsic)
  • Readiness for sport
  • Sport specialization
  • High risk overuse injuries
  • Burnout
  • Prevention

Case 1

  • History
  • 10 year old girl presents for bilateral foot pain, right > left
  • Gradual onset of pain for 2 months, no injury
  • Active in dance all year round, 5 days per week, 1-2 hours per day
  • Hip hop, ballet, jazz
  • Pain worsened after an 8 hour competition
  • Walks with a slight limp now, favoring the right foot
  • Locates the pain over the medial mid-foot
  • Exam
  • Bilateral flexible flat feet with hind-foot pronation
  • Tenderness along the medial border of the navicular, right worse than left

Case 2

  • History
  • 14 year old male from South Anchorage High presents after participating in weight lifting and feeling a “pop” during dead lift
  • Reports severe low back pain with right sided leg pain
  • Driven personality
  • Passionate about football and trains year round
  • Exam
  • Positive straight leg raise
  • Numbness on dorsum of right foot
  • Slight weakness of right EHL


  • Youth sports is an American tradition
  • Life was simpler thirty years ago
  • Cars did not have shoulder belts
  • We did not wear helmets for biking and skiing


  • Youth sports is an American tradition
  • Life was simpler thirty years ago
  • Cars did not have shoulder belts
  • We did not wear helmets for biking and skiing
  • Not all memories are good ones
  • Time are changing.


  • Youth sports participation offer many benefits such as development of self-esteem, peer socialization, leadership, and general fitness.
  • However, there has been widespread emphasis on competitive success – selection to elite-level travel teams, collegiate scholarships, Olympic and National teams, and even professional contracts.
  • This has resulted in increased pressure to begin high intensity training at a young age.
  • Such emphasis on high intensity training for competition and winning at a young age rather than skill development can lead to overuse injuries and burnout.

Overuse injuries

  • Repetitive submaximal loading of the musculoskeletal system when rest is not adequate for structural adaptation.
  • Injury can involve the muscle-tendon unit, bone, bursa, neurovascular structures, and physis.
  • Young athletes are unique in that injuries can include the apophysis and physis.


  • A spectrum of conditions that include overreaching and overtraining.
  • Occurs as a result of chronic stress that causes a young athlete to cease participation in a previously enjoyable activity.


  • 60 million children between 6 to 18 years of age participate in some type of form of organized sports, 44 million in more than 1sport (National Council of Youth Sports, 2008)
  • 27 million children between 6 to 18 years of age participate in team sport (Sporting Goods Manufacturers, 2011)
  • Little research in incidence and prevalence of overuse injuries in children and adolescents
  • 3.5 million children are injured playing sports/recreation annually
  • Prevalence of overuse injuries varies by sport – 37% (skiing and handball) to 68% (running)

Risk Factors

  • Intrinsic
    • Growth-Related Factors
      • Susceptibility of growth cartilage to repetitive stress
      • Adolescent growth spurt
    • Previous injury
    • Previous level of conditioning
    • Anatomic factors
    • Menstrual dysfunction
    • Athlete specific psychological and developmental factors
  • Extrinsic
    • Training workload (rate, intensity, and progression)
    • Training and competition schedules
    • Equipment/footwear
    • Environment
    • Sport technique - biomechanics
    • Parental/coach/peer influences

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Growth and Development

  • Physical growth and cognitive development both influence successful participation in sports
  • Body mass and height increase in preadolescent and adolescent years – girls peak at 15, boys peak beyond 18
  • Overuse injuries may be more common during the adolescent growth spurt – growth cartilage is less resistant to physical stress
    • Distal radius fractures, stress fractures, low back pain
  • Decrease in age-adjusted bone mineral density occurs before peak height velocity
  • Imbalances in growth and strength, lack of lean tissue mass, and joint hypermobility
  • Changes to the metaphyseal blood supply to the physis

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Anatomic Alignment

  • Patellofemoral malalignment
  • Pes planus
  • Pes cavus
  • Elbow hyperextension
  • Lumbar lordosis
  • Joint hypermobility
  • Frequently cited but poor evidence to support argument of malalignment causing injury

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Flexibility

  • Inflexibility of the muscle-tendon unit that develops during the adolescent growth spurt may contribute to injury
  • Causal relationship between flexibility and injury risk has not been documented
  • Mixed results in pre-exercise stretching on injury risk

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Biomechanics

  • Limb length, body mass, and moments of inertia change during adolescent growth spurtaffecting coordination and movement
  • There is suggestion that sport-specific changes in ROM play a role in overuse or biomechanical adaptation
    • Overhead athletes decrease dominant arm IR with strengthening internal rotators
    • One study of Peewee ice hockey players performing sprint start showed at risk hip kinematics which may lead to FAI and labral stress

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Strength and Conditioning

  • Children without foundation of general strength, endurance, and motor skills at increased risk for injury
  • Modifiable risk factors include poor endurance and lack of preseason preparation

Intrinsic Risk Factors – Menstrual Irregularity & Low Energy Availability

  • Female triad:
    • Eating disorder / Inadequate calories
    • Amenorrhea / oligomenorrhea / hypoestrogenemia –
    • Decreased bone density – increased fracture risk
  • History of amenorrhea comes with a risk of bone stress injury
  • Study of collegiate female distance runners found a linear relationship between number of menses per year and risk of stress fracture

Extrinsic Risk Factors – Workload

  • Linear relationship between hours of sports participation and risk of injury – study of 2721 high school athletes
  • > 16 hours per week increased risk of injury
  • Pitch volume has greatest association with injury rate in youth baseball
    • Youth pitchers who pitched > 100 innings/year were 3.5x at risk for injury and time lost
  • Young gymnasts with increasing skill level and number of hours training/week were at increased risk for wrist pain

Extrinsic Risk Factors – Scheduling

  • Year round involvement in sport or participation in multiple teams in the same sport
  • Elite young soccer players < 14 yo were at more risk for injury early in the season, compared to older players
    • Younger players may not have achieved optimal fitness and/or experiencing high training volumes or intensities
  • Overuse injuries were 42% higher in high school athletes who participated all year round vs <=3 seasons
  • Tournament scheduling may put young athletes at risk for overuse injuries

Extrinsic Risk Factors – Equipment

  • Lacking data to associate equipment and overuse injuries
  • Racquet sports – grip size and string tension
  • Weight and length of bats
  • Bike size
  • Shoe type and fit

Readiness for Sport

  • Matching child’s growth and development (motor, sensory, cognitive, social/emotional) to the tasks of sport
  • Coaches and parents often lack the knowledge about development
    • Ex: Enrolling a 5-year-old boy in tackle football
  • Readiness cannot be determined by age, body size, or maturation
    • Ex: Soccer requires being able to stand on one leg and swing the kicking leg / Baseball : eye tracking to hit a ball
  • Cognitive development important in understanding rules of the game (ex: staying in position)
  • 2-5 yo (limited fundamental skills and balance), 6-9 yo (running, swimming, skiing, soccer, baseball), 10-12 yo (football, basketball, hockey, volleyball)

Sports Specialization

  • An intensive, year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports.
  • This is a normal process as athletes mature and demonstrate talent in a sport or activity
  • However, this normally occurs in the late teens or early twenties
  • Occurs along a continuum.
  • Most important question is if they have quit other sports to focus on one sport

Does early specialization lead to success?

  • Growing concern regarding negative effects of early sports specialization – overuse injuries and burnout
  • No evidence of need to specialize at young age for most sports
  • Gymnastics, figure skating, swimming/diving may show benefit for early specialization and peak performance prior to maturation but have high rates of burnout and injury
  • Suggestion 10,000 hours required to become elite level athlete but this can be done at later ages

Does early specialization lead to success?

  • Several studies suggest diversified sports in early to mid adolescence may be more effective in developing skills
  • More world class athletes started at later age and competed in other sports at young age (Vaeyens et al 2009)
  • They recommend holding off on sports specialization until late adolescence (after age 15)
  • Need more data to link early sports specialization and injury
who influences decisions
Who influences decisions?
  • Recent survey elite young athletes
    • Parents are strongest influence on initiation of sport
    • But coaches are biggest influence on decision to specialize in a single sport and perform intense training
    • Parents are proud don’t want to interfere with child-coach relationship
    • So coaches needs to be aware of risk of specialization
cross training has many benefits
Cross training has many benefits
  • Early diversification provides valuable physical, cognitive and psychosocial environments and promotes motivation
  • Studies have shown greater number of different activities the athete experiences during development, translate into less sport specific practice necessary to acquire expertise in their desired sport
  • Early diversification associated with more enjoyment, fewer injuries ad longer participation
  • Lynn Young story on recuiters seeking multisport athletes

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Spine

  • Stress fracture of the pars interarticularis
  • Most common at L5
  • Occurs in6 of population
  • Gymnasts, football linemen and dancers at increased risk
  • Pain increased with extension
  • Initial treatment is activity modification and bracing
  • No risk of spondylolisthesis if unilateral
  • Surgical fusion may be needed if instability (spondylolisthesis) develops

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Femoral Neck

  • Uncommon in children and adolescents
  • Majority are compression sided
  • Tension sided – very high risk – requires strict NWB, +/- ORIF due to high risk of non-union, progression, AVN

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Patella

  • Several case reports, incidence unknown
  • 4-6 weeks in long leg cast or knee immobilizer

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Anterior Tibia

  • Tension-sided injury with high rates of non-union
  • “Dreaded black line”
  • Treated with activity modification, bracing , cast, bone stimulator and surgery for non-union or failure of conservative care

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Ankle

  • Medial Malleolus - Rare
  • One case report of a 15-year-old elite gymnast initially treated with rest with gradual RTP. Two months later had complete fracture, treated with ORIF. (Nyska, 2002)

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Foot

  • Tarsal navicular
    • Track and field, football, soccer (Ostlie, Simons, 2001)
  • Sesamoid
    • Bone scan and CT are helpful in making the diagnosis
    • Excision after failure of non-op therapy, RTP within 6 months (Biedert, Hintermann, 2003)
  • 5th MT metaphyseal/diaphyseal junction
    • No data in children



High Risk Overuse Injuries – Physeal Stress Injury

  • Most physeal stress injuries resolve without complications
  • Proximal humerus, distal radius, distal femur, and proximal tibia
  • High risk – distal femur and proximal tibia – may result in leg-length discrepancies, angular or rotational malalignment (Green, Swiontkowski, 2003)
  • Gymnasts’ wrist – premature closure may lead to positive ulnar variance (compression of TFCC, DJD, chronic ulnar sided pain) (Albanese et al., 1989)
  • Knee – one athlete developed bilateral genu varum over two years following physeal injury (Laor et al., 2006)

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Osteochondritis Dissecans

  • Defect in subchondral bone and articular cartilage
  • Femoral condyles, capitellum, talar dome
  • MRI is helpful in staging lesions
  • Stable lesions in skeletally immature athletes can be treated non-operatively
  • Surgery for unstable or skeletally mature
  • Gymnastics, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, football, tennis, squash, baseball and weight lifting may put participants at a higher risk of OCD

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Apophyseal Injuries

  • Most apophyseal stress injuries resolve when physis closes
  • However some can persist as an ossicle and pain
  • Tibial tubercle, medial epicondyle, ischial tuberosity, olecranon apophysis, base of the 5th MT
  • Incidence of non-union is unknown
  • Ossicle resection can provide relief of pain

High Risk Overuse Injuries – Effort Thrombosis

  • Paget-Schroetter Syndrome
  • Clot in subclavian or axillary vein
  • Unilateral arm swelling and discoloration
  • Follows sporting activities, such as wrestling, playing ball, gymnastics and swimming,
  • It is believed that retroversion, hyperabduction and extension impose undue strain on the subclavian vein leading to microtrauma


  • Overreaching – functional or nonfunctional – intense training that leads to decreased performance, resolves with a rest period.
  • Overtraining – extreme nonfunctional overreaching, longer period of decreased performance (over 2 months), maladaptive physiology, more symptomatic

Burnout - Symptoms

DiFioriet al., 2014

  • Study showed that swimmers who specialized early spent less time on national level team and retired from sport earlier
  • Gymnasts who specialized earlier rated their health lower and experienced less fun in the sport


  • Limiting weekly and yearly participation, limits on sport-specific repetitive movements (eg. pitching) and scheduled rest periods.
  • Individualized modifications based upon sport, age, growth rate, readiness, and injury history
  • Careful monitoring during adolescent growth spurt, as injury risk is greatest.


  • Pre-practice conditioning programs can reduce injury rates.
  • Pre-practice neuromuscular training programs can reduce lower extremity injuries.
  • Proper sizing and resizing of equipment is recommended.
  • Emphasis should be placed on skill development than competition and winning to avoid burnout.

Back to the Cases

  • Case 1 – 10 year old dancer with right navicular stress reaction (? Bilateral)
    • High risk overuse injury – immobilization, NWB x 4 weeks, clinical reevaluation

Back to the Cases

  • Case 2 – 14 year old male with bilateral L4 pars fractures and isthmicspondylolisthesis and disc herniation
    • Braced for three months and improved but instability and herniation increased with return to athletic activities and he required L4-5 fusion. Doing great at two years post op


  • Overuse injuries are underreported in children and adolescents.
  • Pre-participation exams may identify prior injury patterns and afford opportunity to assess sport readiness.
  • History of prior injury is an established risk factor for overuse injuries.
  • Adolescent female athletes should be assess for menstrual dysfunction as a predisposing factor to overuse injuries.
  • Parents and coaches should be educated regarding sport readiness.


  • Early sport specialization may not lead to long-term success and may risk overuse injuries and burnout.
  • Sport diversification should be encouraged at younger ages.
  • When an overuse injury is diagnosed, it is important to address the underlying cause.
  • High risk overuse injuries include stress fractures of the femoral neck, navicular, tibia, pars interarticularis, and effort thrombosis.
youth sport injuries early specialization vs early diversification
Youth sport injuries: early specialization vs. early diversification

The purpose of this study is to compare the injury rate between early specialization and early diversification middle school athletes (ages 11-14) using parent reported medical history.

Michaela Orzechowski

early specialization
Early Specialization
  • Deliberate practice: training with the intent to increase skill level, which is not inherently enjoyable
  • Investment: high levels of deliberate practice and very little deliberate play, all within the focus on one sport (actions are synonymous with early specialization, though comes after sampling and specialization)
    • Early specialization: investing in one sport; training for that sport is year round and focuses on deliberate practice, with
early specialization1
Early Specialization
  • Crucial training period of development: impacting physique of prepubescent athletes(Ericsson et al., 1993)
    • Phases of mastering a skill (Ericsson et al., 1993)
      • One: introduction without formal training
      • Two: instruction but not full commitment
      • Three: focusing solely on the specific skill
  • Immediate vs. long term effects of early specialization:
    • Immediate: higher success (10,000 hours/ 10 year rule)
    • Long term: more likely to be active in some sort of physical activity, just not that specific sport

Maffulli et al. (1994) vs. Russell & Limle (2013); Ogden & Warneke (2010); Strachan et al. (2009)

early diversification
Early Diversification
  • Deliberate play: usually unsupervised sport based activity that has the main purpose of enjoyment; a pick up game of basketball is a good example of deliberate play.
  • Sampling: playing multiple sports without investing in any
    • Early diversification: sampling multiple sports throughout the course of a year; training for those sports include mostly deliberate play and little deliberate practice.
early diversification1
Early Diversification
  • Deliberate play: Côté et al. (2012); Baker (2003)
    • Self-determination theory: why is the child playing the sport?

Côté et al. (2009)

  • Sampling years (6-13): DSMP Côté et al. (2012); Baker (2003); Bridge & Toms (2012)
    • Delayed training-related development: Moesch et al. (2011)
  • Likelihood of reaching professional level: less than 1% for most sports Malina (2010)
  • Benefits of early diversification:
    • Transferrable skills: Baker (2003)
    • Longer career/decreased burnout: Côté et al. (2009)
    • Decreased time necessary to reach elite level Baker et al. (2003)

Online survey to be completed by the parents of 12-15 year old athletes regarding his or her sport injuries during 2013

Average time taken to participate:~7 minutes

  • Sex:
    • Male: 6
    • Female: 8
  • Age:
    • 14: 5
    • 13: 5
    • 12: 3
    • 11: 1
    • Weight (lbs):
    • Mean:109.36
    • Median: 110
    • Mode: 135
    • Min: 60
    • Max: 135
  • Height (inches)
    • Mean: 61.86
    • Median: 63
    • Mode: 63
    • Min: 50
    • Max: 69
ongoing results
Ongoing Results

Early specialization

Multisport athletes

P val: 0.189079626

No significant difference has been found so far*

  • 14 total participants
    • Specialization athletes: 5
    • Multisport:
      • 2 sports: 5
      • 3 sports: 4