Over the past few years, study after study that has come out about young athletes and sports specialization have told parents and coaches that the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Here are a few that come to mind: Data shows that 43% of NCAA football players regret not playing multiple sports growing up, 90% of first round NFL draft picks in 2015 player multiple sports in high school, and 224 out of 256 guys drafted were multi-sport athletes in high school, and this article that points out the number of high profile recruits and NFL quarterbacks that were multi-sport guys.
Which makes this recent study I came across even more puzzling.
A new study, from the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, states that youth participation in organized sports is on the rise, AND many athletes and their families are choosing to focus on a single sport at an “increasingly early age.”
The study took a look at what age current high school, college, and professional athletes decided on single sport specialization and found that nearly 68% of current college athletes opted to specialize, compared to about 46% of high school and professional players.
Current high school athletes were the youngest to start sports specilization, starting on average at 12.7 years old, while college athletes didn’t start specializing until almost 15, and professional athletes waited to specialize until about 14.
So, regardless of the current research out there on sports specialization, it’s effects on growing bodies and joints, and the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete current high schoolers are ones that are starting to specialize at a younger age compared to college and professional athletes.