UW-Madison School of Education - In the Media

School of Education "In the Media"

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ESPN report showcases research of UW-Madison’s Bell on dangers of youth sports specialization

July 22, 2019

An ESPN report from Baxter Holmes showcases important research from UW-Madison's David Bell on the potential dangers associated with youth sports specialization.

Bell is a faculty member with the School of Education's Department of Kinesiology and its athletic training program.  Bell also is director of the Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory (WISL).

David Bell
In a series of studies in 2017 and 2018, a team of researchers working with Bell found that while most youth athletes today believe specialization increases their performance and chances of making a college team, the majority of those who reached Division I level didn’t classify as highly specialized at the high school level.  

While the upsides of specialization are unclear, there are few doubts about the downsides, according to ESPN.

A separate 2016 study from Bell and his team found that 36 percent of high school athletes classified as highly specialized, training in one sport for more than eight months a year. Those athletes were two to three times more likely to suffer a hip or knee injury. 

The ESPN article, headlined " 'These kids are ticking time bombs': The threat of youth basketball," is available here.

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