In episode No. 35 of our “In The Paint Show,“ co-hosts Devin Ugland and Ronnie Flores go hard on the highly important topic of single-sport specialization at the youth level and the long-term impacts it has. We take a basketball-centric look at the topic with ESPN Senior Writer Baxter Holmes, who shined a light on this topic with his recent story on ESPN.com, Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) basketball coach Frank Knight, whose program has produced many multi-sport athletes, and Drew Morcos, Founder of MOTUS Specialists who provides insight on what parents can do to help their kids better prepare their bodies for year-round competition.
Holmes’ story (titled “These kids are ticking time bombs”: The threat of youth basketball“) revealed some startling facts about the state of youth sports and basketball.
• David Bell’s study from 2016 concluded 36 percent of high school athletes classified themselves as ‘highly specialized,’ which means training in one sport for more than eight months out of the year. Those athletes were two to three times more likely to suffer a knee or hip injury.
• Chris Powers, a USC professor and director of its biokinesiology program, sees kids 10 and 11 years old with over-use injuries and even some with torn ACLs. Holmes reveals as part of his two-year research on the topic he witnessed a nine-year old having ACL surgery. This was very uncommon 15-20 years ago and is becoming more prevalent in recent years.
• NBA orthopedics are seeing wear-and-tear issues in players much younger than ever before and Holmes will argue there are tons of NBA players in mid to late 20s already past their physical peak.
We go hard in asking some very direct questions about this explosive phenomenon in youth sports.
Will participation guidelines pushed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and USA Basketball ever mean anything to youth coaches, tourney directors or parents of children who want some of the riches the NBA and NCAA generate?
How worried are parents and travel ball coaches that their kid will lose playing time if they play football or another sport?
Where did some parents, youth and high school coaches develop this notion that specialization helps increase college scholarship chances?
Will the startling statistics revealed in Holmes’ research stop kids from focusing on one sport if parents and youth coaches understood the dangers?
To learn more about our hosts, Ronnie Flores and Devin Ugland, and to get more information about what “In The Paint” is all about, check out our intro below!