400 Percent

By Jeff Martin

In Kids, Medical/Injuries

April 23, 2012

PDF Article

Forcing children into sport-specific training can be detrimental. Jeff Martin explains.

A 400 percent increase—that’s huge.

If we were talking about your deadlift, that would be spectacular. Instead, we’re talking about a 400 percent increase in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in children, according to a February 28 episode of Today.

The rise is largely due to children’s lack of general physical conditioning and the increasing trend toward early sport specialization, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the organization Stop Sports Injuries.

What does this kind of knee injury mean long term for a child? Devastation. It isn’t just knee injuries, though. Career-ending elbow and shoulder injuries are on the rise. Concussions as well.

Career-ending injuries at age 12? How could this happen?

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3 Comments on “400 Percent”


wrote …

Phenomenal article. I work at a small high school as an athletic trainer and coach and have seen first hand over the past 15 years the decline of athletics. I think that maybe the top 1-2 athletes in each sport are better athletes but overall the quality of the rest has decreased. Plus the general shift to one sport athletes has devastated many other sports. As a track coach I can personally attest to this. Luckily we (mostly Chris Sinagoga who comments on here too) train a group of kids with crossfit as their GPP program and they are the ones that are saving our season(s). These "Crossfit Kids" are willing to play multiple sports and often enough are the best athletes when they do so. Last year alone we took 10 kids to states with 9 of them having ties to the GPP program.

On a side note: We have had 4 ACL injuries this year alone in soccer. 3 of the 4 athletes are one sport athletes. One of the athletes was just coming off a ACL tear the previous fall and unfortunately tore her other one.


wrote …

Great article Jeff!


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Great work as usual Jeff. Both Brian (first post) and I follow a lot of your teachings and principles when training our high school athletes.

I can see both sides to the arguement here. I think that it is good for kids to develop a general fitness and play as many sports as they can. However, one thing I always preach to the athletes I train is that they need to pick a primary sport - not to specialize in, but to focus on. For instance, if you are a baseball player, you should still play football and basketball, but you should also be staying fresh on your swing and fielding during those seasons as well.

I was/am part of a great AAU basketball program in Detroit and I can definitely vouch for how effective good club/travel/AAU teams can be to an athlete. But with that being said, I still played football and ran track, and was still able to get a lot of shots up during those seasons.

CrossFit can be a great tool for kids who still haven't decided their primary sport - as it will help you develop skills applicable to any sport you play.

So in summary, focusing on a sport isn't bad. But specializing can be (especially at a young age.)

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