Early Specialization/ Overuse Injuries.

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by Cubanlix63, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If better choices existed, parents would take them.
     
  2. jvgnj

    jvgnj Member

    Apr 22, 2015
    Yes and no. Parents would need to do enough homework and to evaluate the options in an informed way. I think most people default to the most "serious" club their kid can make without thinking about whether that's the right choice for the kid at that particular time.
     
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  3. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That's a fair point.
     
  4. Terrier1966

    Terrier1966 Member

    Nov 19, 2016
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    I’m not aware of any data that proves playing 3 sports throughout a year is safer than playing one sport year round.

    Yes, doctors attribute a growth plate injury to playing one sport...are they positive if the player had played soccer and then basketball instead of all soccer the injury would not have occurred?

    More kids play sports. There is more money in diagnosing injuries and in rehab.

    I wouldn’t suggest all kids should only play one sport but unless one of the seasons is swimming I don’t see how playing multiple sports will be measurable different.
     
  5. jvgnj

    jvgnj Member

    Apr 22, 2015
    This is from January. https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.or...nks-one-sport-athletes-with-overuse-injuries/

    You're right that overall workload across sports is definitely something to consider and monitor. But there seems to be a pretty strong consensus that specializing in 1 sport leads to a greater risk of overuse injuries due to the lack of diversity in movements and a way to mitigate this risk is to engage in multiple sports.
     
  6. Terrier1966

    Terrier1966 Member

    Nov 19, 2016
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    I’m not a doctor and I do t want to come across as arguing ... but I just don’t see the study as proof.

    A few thoughts on the study.

    It doesn’t indicate how it controls for the level of competition...casual soccer players playing one season of middle school soccer etc are not competing at the same level as year round travel players. Could it be that injuries are also correlated to the speed and competition level involved?

    The suggestion that year round travel baseball players and kids playing rec league baseball would be at the same level of risk in identical length seasons is not proven in the study.

    It points out that rest is a primary factor, not one sport per se. So, playing 3 sports in consecutive seasons with no rest may be worse than one sport with sufficient rest.

    If the studies are assuming that high specialization athletes and low specialization athletes are randomly distributed I think that is a major flaw.

    Lastly, the doctor offers what I take as a very biased stance regarding training versus playing...could it be that the doctor had a conclusion in advance of the research?
     
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  7. ppierce34

    ppierce34 Member

    Aug 29, 2016
    Fort Wayne, IN
    I'm not a doctor but i will pretend to be one. It seems pretty obvious that every sport requires a different specific muscle group. So if you only play one sport you are using the same muscle group over and over again, all year long. Whereas back in the day kids would play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in Spring etc.... giving each muscle group ample time to recover.
     
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  8. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    You twice confuse the findings of the study with the opinions of a doctor not attached to the study…

    It points out that rest is a primary factor, not one sport per se. So, playing 3 sports in consecutive seasons with no rest may be worse than one sport with sufficient rest.

    Lastly, the doctor offers what I take as a very biased stance regarding training versus playing...could it be that the doctor had a conclusion in advance of the research?


    Both of these are opinions of a doctor who as no affiliation to the study and are merely his opinions regarding the matter in general…

    If the studies are assuming that high specialization athletes and low specialization athletes are randomly distributed I think that is a major flaw.

    I am not a 100% sure what you are getting at with this, but thought casual observation the population of both groups would seem large enough that I would not think that sample size issues would be a problem…

    The study itself points out that their strength of recommendation is only a B (on a A,B, C scale)…so it does recognize the limitations of this study. However, you are never going to find a study that 100% proves something like this…with that said, I don’t think this study and its findings should be brushed off so lightly….and I say that as a parent who’s kid specialized way to earlier then he should have…
     
  9. jvgnj

    jvgnj Member

    Apr 22, 2015
    I don't see it as argumentative. You raise a good point on the limitations of this study and it is just one of the many you see if you run a quick search. While I haven't seen the perfect study on this or a 100% provable conclusion, there is a lot of data out there that suggests early specialization puts kids at a greater risk of developing overuse injuries. People can draw their own conclusions on how great that risk is and if it's something worth mitigating, but nearly all the information I've seen suggests this is an issue. I've certainly not seen anything that recommends early specialization from a health perspective.

    I'm biased towards kids paying multiple sports. Most of the information out there indicates specializing presents a greater risk of burnout (both physical and mental) and doesn't even result in a better player during the late teen years. Each kid is different and you need to weigh the risks and rewards with that in mind. There's no absolute "right" answer. Putting aside the health and long-term performance issues being debated, I think it's fun and familiarity with multiple sports provides a better way to continue enjoying sports long after your "serious" career is over (think company basketball teams and beer league softball).
     
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  10. Terrier1966

    Terrier1966 Member

    Nov 19, 2016
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    I’m not suggesting that playing one sport is better...merely suggesting that the “scourge of specialized organized sports” is too easy an explanation for this whole issue.

    If someone told me playing soccer in the fall, basketball and spring track would generate fewer issues than playing soccer all three seasons I would say “well, that depends...on a lot of things”.

    In my lifetime girls sports have gone from a few relatively low intensity sports played almost exclusively in schools to year-round, high tempo athletic contests.

    Girls basketball is night and day to what it used to be and none of them were playing hockey, lacrosse or doing cheerleading like they do now.

    I’m not sure how the studies account for increases participation, new sports etc.

    Also, let’s not forget there is a lot of money in sports medicine and rehab.

    What might have been “take it easy for a few days” 20 years ago might now be a repetitive use injury caused by specialization that requires an mri and 4 weeks of PT.

    Again, I’m not trying to prove it isn’t a problem...just noting there might be a few other considerations.
     
  11. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Yes, even the study points out that there are many factors and considerations that play a part….with so many factors and variables, and given the difficulty in isolating these variables in a controlled environment, you are never going to reach 100% causation…but there does seem to be some correlational evidence to suggest that early specialization does lead to higher rates of repetitive use injury. No, it’s not a guarantee it will happen to your kid…and yes, other factors can increase or decrease the correlational risk associated with early specialization…but, and this is a the key point, acknowledging those factors does not invalidate the original correlation…
     
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  12. pu.ma

    pu.ma Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    Injuries tend to add up over time. Nowadays, when a kid is playing a sport year round, he's likely in a competitive program. Problem is parents/coaches with young kids tend to rush kids back from injury the moment they think they are ready rather than being sure they are healthy.
     
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  13. CLFutball

    CLFutball New Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    No offense intended, but I dislike correlations in general. Correlations are speculative. Causation is much more preferable to me if you want to discuss a problem and the potential solutions.

    Regarding this discussion about injuries caused by overuse, whether one sport or multi-sport, it doesn't take a study to figure that out. And common sense should tell us when a player is training/performing/etc. too much. Perhaps an argument could be made that you can train a little more if you are multi-sport than single sport without overuse injury, but this entire discussion has gone down a rabbit hole.
     
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  14. Terrier1966

    Terrier1966 Member

    Nov 19, 2016
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    One man’s rabbit hole is another’s learning experience.
    :)

    I think this has been productive in as much as there has been cordial clarification, qualification etc.
     
  15. SuperHyperVenom

    United States
    Jan 7, 2019
    My daughter had an overuse injury when she was 15. She was playing semi-pro so she was pushing herself physically. Her specialist believed most overuse injuries are due to poor recovery - hers included. So this is now a big focus for her: rest, sleep, deep tissue massage, eating well, rolling out, sauna, swimming, stretching, etc.

    If your kid has dreams of representing their country, going pro or playing Div 1 - they will need to specialise. It is what it is. In Europe they specialise early. Be smart. Make sure your child recovers well after games and tournaments, has regular physio visits and has an exercise program to eliminate any muscular weaknesses/imbalances. This all takes money unfortunately.
     
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  16. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    I don’t think anyone disagrees that specialization, at some point, is a requirement in order to achieve one’s potential in any given sport…however, I think this debate is more about [too] early specialization and the [over] extent of it…

    Personally, I don’t think any 10 year old should be working so hard in single sport that they require deep tissue massages and sauna treatments in order to recover…I am not necessarily saying that’s what you are suggesting…necessarily…
     
  17. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think the problem in the States is that club sports play WAY too many games.

    Tournaments are a big problem.
     
  18. SuperHyperVenom

    United States
    Jan 7, 2019
    Of course not! I didn't read the article haha. Surely parents are not letting their kids specialise at 10!


    yep, but I wonder if tournaments play a big part of the WNT's champion/winning mentality. Hard to put into words, but Americans play so many tournaments throughout their junior years and then NCAA championships that they learn how to be champions.
     
  19. TheKraken

    TheKraken Member

    United States
    Jun 21, 2017
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Tournaments are a joke. No professional soccer player would play 4 full games over 36 hours, yet we expect 11 year old kids to do this? What does this prove?
     
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  20. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    Tournaments aren't put on to benefit the kids. Yes, it gives teams/clubs chances to play against other teams, to offer different challenges than playing in a league, offer more chances for team bonding (between games, overnights, etc), etc, etc.

    Tournaments (sub U13) are held for one reason and one reason only... $$$ for the organizers. In my state, at least when you get to Presidents Cup and State Open, it's one game/day. Prelims are one weekend (Memorial Day weekend so you can play Saturday, Sunday, Monday), with Semi-Finals and Finals another weekend.
     
  21. ThePonchat

    ThePonchat Member+

    Columbus Crew SC
    United States
    Jan 10, 2013
    NKY
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm just now getting caught up on the thread. Great discussion. One I am a fan of. To start, I think I lean more toward what @Terrier1966 has been saying. There's a lot of "unknown" surrounding all of it with any of these "specialization" studies.

    From what I know of any of these studies, they have no clue on what the individuals do outside of their "specialization." Do they cross train? Weight lift? Play other sports recreationally with friends? All of that plays a role in these studies, but is probably limited in terms of research.

    Sure, if you only do one sport AND nothing else, one is susceptible to injuries more because of the natural wear-and-tear on the body. Just like continuously playing sports (more than one) has a natural wear-and-tear on the body.

    Exactly. This more than anything else here! Except...


    Parents, coaches, players, etc. REST! I don't care if you choose to play 3 sports in one season or one sport throughout your career. It's your decision and your family's decision. And, that's okay. But, do one thing, no matter what when you play...REST! You want to be a better athlete? Rest. Want to be stronger? Rest. Want to be faster? Rest. Work your butt off, then rest.
     
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  22. Terrier1966

    Terrier1966 Member

    Nov 19, 2016
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    Agree. Cool down run and stretch. Post-event nutrition and rest will offset a lot of risks.
     
  23. CLFutball

    CLFutball New Member

    Feb 7, 2012
  24. ThePonchat

    ThePonchat Member+

    Columbus Crew SC
    United States
    Jan 10, 2013
    NKY
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Talked to a family about their boy's HS team. The HS is about 600 students, so not a bad size.

    He said that they have 6 players currently injured from their "tryout list." All 6 players are three-sport athletes and have had zero rest. Before "cuts," there are 46 players out for the team -- which actually started at 58 before people started quitting.
     
  25. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    DS's HS is 1600+. Had just over 50 try out. Three have quit. Three are injured, one of which got injured in a pre-season game, and is ready and willing to play again.

    Anecdotal evidence isn't evidence.
     

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