Early Single Sport Specialization Statistics

  • Less than 1% of young athletes age 6-17 years old achieve elite status in basketball, soccer, softball, baseball or soccer
  • Highly specialized youth athletes are at 2.5x greater risk of serious injury as opposed to their non-specialized peers
  • In one study, those who trained more than 28 hours per week in their varsity sport before high school were more likely to report multiple injuries (90.0 vs. 56.7%).
  • “Specialization” is classified as a young athlete that participates in year-round training > 8 months of the year, chooses a single main sport and quits all other sports to focus on single sport.
  • In a study of 519 junior tennis players, 70% of them claimed to begin single-sport specialization by age 10.
  • 20% of children ages 8 to 12 and 45% of those ages 13 to 14 will have arm pain during a single youth baseball season.
  • The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) published results of a 2012 survey that found 88% of college athletes surveyed participated in more than one sport as a child.


  1. DiFiori JP, Benjamin HJ, Brenner J, Gregory A, Jayanthi N, Landry GL, Luke A. Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports: A Position Statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Clin J Sports Med. 2014;24(1):3-20.
  2. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. (2019, March 16). Early sports specialization tied to increased injury rates in college athletes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 16, 2019 from sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190316162202.htm
  3. Abbott, A., Collins, D., Sowerby, K. & Martindale, R. (2007). Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport: A report for sportscotland by The University of Edinburgh, sportscotland: Edinburgh.
  4. Fransen, J., Pion, J., Vandendriessche, J., Vandorpe, B., Vaeyens, R., Lenoir, M., & Philippaerts, RM. (2012). Differences in physical fitness and gross motor coordination in boys aged 6‐12 years specializing in one versus sampling more than one sport. Journal of Sport Sciences, 30, 379‐
  5. Jayanthi, N., Pinkham, C., & Luke, A. (2011). The Risks of Sports Specialization and Rapid Growth in Young Athletes. 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. April 30th-May4th, Salt Lake City, Utah.