School of Education News

USA Today highlights research of UW-Madison's Bell on specialization in youth sports

November 01, 2019

USA Today showcased research from UW-Madison’s David Bell on sports specialization in young athletes.

Bell is a national leader in examining the risks associated with sports specialization and youth athletics. He is an associate professor with the Department of Kinesiology's athletic training program, and director of the Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory (WISL).

David Bell
Bell
According to Bell’s research, focusing on one sport at too early an age increases the risk of major, career-threatening injury later in life. 

“The theory here is that repetitive activity, performing these repetitive sport-specific tasks over and over again, will stress the tissue… and then eventually lead to a breakdown in that tissue overtime,” Bell tells USA Today.

However, Bell explains that youth sports culture makes it difficult to get adequate time in multiple sports. To reconcile this, Bell recommends playing a sport for eight months a year and taking three to four months off throughout the year. The child should remain active, but take time off from a specific sport to allow overused body parts to relax and recover. 

Read the USA Today article here.


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