Background: There is significant emerging evidence that early sport specialization is a potential risk factor for injury in youth sports. Despite basketball being the most popular youth team sport in the United States, sport specialization research, specifically in youth basketball players, has been limited. The purpose of this paper was to examine the association of sport specialization behaviors with injury history by surveying a nationally representative sample of parents of youth basketball athletes. We hypothesized that athletes who specialized in basketball, participated on multiple teams at the same time, and traveled regularly for basketball competitions would be more likely to report a basketball-related injury in the previous year. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 805 parents of 805 youth basketball players (female N = 241, 29.9%; age: 12.9 ± 2.5 y old) completed an online questionnaire that had 3 sections: (1) parent/child demographics, (2) child basketball participation information for the previous year, and (3) child basketball injury history in the previous year. Multivariate logistic regression examined the associations between variables of interest and injury history, adjusting for covariates. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated for the variables of interest from the logistic regression model. Results: Highly specialized athletes were more likely than low specialization athletes to report history of basketball injury in the previous year [OR (95% CI): 2.47 (1.25-4.88), P = 0.009]. The odds of reporting an injury in the previous year were twice as great among athletes who played on a basketball team at the same time as another sport team compared with those who played basketball only [OR (95% CI): 1.98 (1.30-3.01), P = 0.001]. The odds of reporting an injury in the previous year were 3 times greater among athletes who received private coaching compared with those who did not receive private coaching [OR (95% CI): 2.91 (1.97-4.31), P < 0.001]. Conclusion: Specialization in basketball, along with several other behaviors that have become typical of modern youth sport participation, were associated with reported injury history. Further prospective research is necessary to determine whether sport specialization behaviors increase the risk of injury in youth basketball. Level of Evidence: Level III-cross-sectional study.
- Injury prevention
- Overuse injury
- Youth sport
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine