UGA study speaks to the dangers of a sport’s athletes – WGAU

High school students who focus on one sport are more likely to be injured or suffer from burnout. But new research from the University of Georgia suggests their motivation to specialize in a sport is pure: a love of the game and competition.

Published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, the study surveyed 975 high school athletes in the United States and found that more than one in five reported a high level of specialization in a sport. More than 42% declared a low level of specialization.

“A number of studies have pointed out that if you specialize in one sport, for example if you only play baseball or only play football, you do the same moves over and over again, there’s so a lot of problems with repetitive use injuries,” said Dee Warmath, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Other studies have pointed out that there are also an association with burnout. You want young adults to be engaged in their sport, and there are a lot of benefits to that. But if you just play football all year round, you’re likely to burn out and give up the sport.

Experts often recommend limiting athletic specialization, especially among high school athletes. Prior to this study, little was known about the motivations that drive high school athletes to specialize. Knowing what motivates your child to want to major in a sport can help parents and coaches develop a playbook to inspire the student to diversify.

“We might need a more balanced approach to managing sport specialization when athletes are taking it on for really positive reasons,” said Warmath, who is based in the Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Health. consumption economy. “So instead of saying that sports specialization is bad and you shouldn’t do it, maybe it’s more about finding ways to compete more effectively and pointing out that even some professional athletes use other sports to train for their main sport.This diversity of sports can make you better at your main sport.

The key, Warmath said, is finding ways to communicate to athletes why specialization might have negative consequences and what they can do to avoid them.

The study looked at two characteristics of competitiveness: the enjoyment of competition, which one might associate with a love of the game or higher levels of sportsmanship, and the adversarial nature of competition. Competitive and controversial athletes are more likely to be competitive in all aspects of their lives, which can manifest as more aggressive and antagonizing attitudes.

The researchers found that athletes who planned to play a sport in college were much more likely to have a high level of specialization. Athletes who enjoyed competition were also more likely to specialize.

Athletes who engaged in a variety of sports were more likely to show characteristics of opposites, such as challenging or arguing with other people even if it leads to conflict or hurt feelings. More athletic efforts give them more opportunities to compete.

“It’s like telling someone they might get wreckage while driving, so they shouldn’t drive because they won’t get wreckage that way,” Warmath said. “We have to recognize that athletes go into sport specialization for really positive reasons: they want to improve in their sport. They want to compete more effectively.

The study was funded in part by a Mind Matters Challenge grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association/US Department of Defense. David R. Bell and Andrew P. Winterstein are co-authors of the article.

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