effects of playing multiple high school sports on national basketball
association players’ propensity for injury and athletic performance
Rugg C, Kadoor A, Feeley BT, Pandya NK. 2017. Am J
Sports Med: ahead of print.
Take Home
: Though most of the NBA
first round draft picks were single-sport athletes in high school they were
also more likely to suffer injuries and participate in less games compared with
their multi-sport peers.
Young athletes who specialize in one sport at an
early age are at a high risk of burnout and injury. Many parents and athletes
believe sport specialization is necessary to achieve athletic success later in
life (college/university scholarship, professional status); however, there is little
evidence to support this belief. Therefore, the authors identified the 237
National Basketball Association (NBA) first-round draft picks from 2008 to 2015
(who played at least one NBA game) to determine the frequency of athletes who
played a single sport or multiple sports in high school and compare injury rate
and length of careers. The authors used publicly available information on the
internet to collect information regarding the player’s high school sport
participation (evidence that they played a sport other than basketball in high
school), major injuries while in the NBA (resulted in 10-game absence), number of
regular season NBA games played, and if they were still active in the league. They
also collected the players age, height, weight, body mass index, and position
at time of draft. The authors determined that 36 (15%) were multi-sport
athletes (76% participated in either football or track and field) and 201 (85%)
were single-sport athletes. There were no differences between player’s
demographics at the time of draft between groups. The multisport athletes
played in a greater percentage of games (78% versus 73%) and were less likely
to suffer a major injury (25% versus 43%).
The authors found a minority of the first-round
draft picks in the NBA were multi-sport athletes. However, they also determined
that the multisport athletes participated in more regular season games and were
less likely to suffer a major injury compared with single-sport first-round
draft picks. One limitation that should be noted was the methods in which the
authors collected this information was not the most accurate. The authors did
not receive any information from the athletes themselves or the NBA injury
registry. Instead the authors used different websites to collect their
information. Therefore, the authors may have miscategorized the athletes as
single sport athletes, missed injury reports, or miscalculated the frequency of
the player’s participation in games. The information presented in this study
also only represents a specific portion of the NBA; so, more research is
necessary to determine if this is representative of the league or just first
round draft picks. Nevertheless, medical professionals need to be aware that
even at the elite level single-sport specialization seems to play a role in
risk of injury. Therefore, educating parents, coaches, and athletes about the
risks of sports specialization is necessary to promote healthy long-term
for Discussion
: What are your current
strategies to discuss risks of single sport specialization?
Written by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban
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