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361 The impact of sport specialization on injury, success, and perceptions of health
  1. Julie Agel,
  2. Todd Rockwood,
  3. Anne Eaton
  1. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA


Background Sport specialization can impact physical and mental aspects of the individual athlete.

Objective To evaluate the relationship between sports participation history, success, health status, and injury.

Design Recall Survey.

Setting Major League Baseball Team.

Patients (or Participants) 107 Major League Baseball Players.

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) A posterori assessment of years of single sport participation, overall participation in sport, current age.

Main Outcome Measurements Determination of the impact of duration of sports participation and specialization on injury, adjusting for age.

Results 75% of the athletes reported playing at least one other sport competitively; primarily basketball. The average years playing baseball was (19) and the average years specializaing in baseball was (9). 80 (75%) reported being born and raised in the U.S. 12% reported that their mother played high-level sports while 37% reported that their father played high-level sports with 63% of those playing baseball. 7 injuries that prohibited participation for at least 12 weeks were reported. The greatest proportion of active athletes who were injured occured at 16% (age 24). A Cox model with a time varying covariate representing specialization, adjusted for the age athletes started baseball, showed no significant relationship between specialization and injury. The time scale used in the model was years since an athlete started baseball. On average specialization had a substantial impact on their elite success was 7 on a scale of 0 (No impact) to 10 (Extreme Impact). Compared to non-elite athletes respondents indicated that on average their physical, emotional health, and general well being was better.

Conclusions Elite athletes perceive that specialization is important to playing at a high level. They are physically, emotionally healthier and have a greater well being that non-athletes their age. A time to event modeling to determine the impact of duration of sports participation and specialization on injury, adjusting for the age players started baseball did not demonstrate a significant relationship between specialization and injury.

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