"The single, strongest predictor of injury in youth sports is sports specialization," Dr. Matthew T. DesJardins says. Injury occurs when pre-adolescent bodies push beyond their limits with year-round training or a lack of diversification. For multisport athletes or "preferentially, someone who is engaged in less structured play, the injury rates are much lower," he notes.
Studies show that 80 percent of collegiate athletes had engaged in multi-sport athletics. Thus, "funneling a 12-year-old into playing volleyball only, with the anticipation of getting a college volleyball scholarship, is a myth," he says.
Dr. DesJardins is a team physician for Northern Kentucky University and Cooper High School. He advises several youth sports leagues in Northern Kentucky and serves on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
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