JSU Student Symposium 2022

Short- And Long-Term Effects of Sport Specialization on Youth Baseball Players: A Critically Appraised Topic


Short- And Long-Term Effects of Sport Specialization on Youth Baseball Players: A Critically Appraised Topic



Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Savage, Kinesiology; Chris Clark, Kinesiology


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Submission Type



10:45-10:55am | Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor


Context - Sport specialization in baseball has been an emerging topic among youth athletes. Specialization is a growing concern because its possible effects on the health and safety of youth athletes. This leads us to investigate what the short- and long-term effects that sports specialization has on youth baseball players.

Methods - A computerized search was completed in September 2021. The search terms used were youth baseball players, sport specialization, youth baseball, high school, club sport, and short- or long-term injury. Electronic databases used was SPORTDiscus, PubMed, and CINAHL Plus with full text. These databases were all accessible through the Jacksonville State University Library. Inclusion criteria: patients from the ages 8-19 years old, specialization in baseball year-round, upper extremity injury, surgery or rehabilitation, and prevention strategies. Exclusion criteria: patients under the age of 7 and over the age of 19 and lower body injury. Validity of the selected studies was determined using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database or the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology scale. One author independently reviewed the studies, scored each paper, and reviewed the completed appraisals to come to a consensus on study quality.

Results - The literature search retrieved sixteen studies. Out of these studies, six met inclusion criteria and the level of evidence suggested by the Strength of Recommendation of Taxonomy was used to identify eligible studies. Post et al. and Croci et al. compared the short- and long-term effects that sport specialization has on youth baseball players. These studies suggested sport specialization had worse scores on throwing, arm function, history of shoulder and elbow injury, and long-term complications. DiSanti et al. and Hernandez et al. compared the perception that both coaches and parents of youth athletes found that the highest incidence was in baseball, followed by basketball, soccer, and volleyball in high school and club sports. Sakata et al. and Reintgen et al. looked at if prevention programs worked in limiting sport specialization injuries and found the incidence of shoulder and elbow injuries were significantly lower if they were educated on safe pitching guidelines, however, a majority of youth athletes were unaware of safe pitching guidelines.

Conclusion - As an athletic trainer (AT), it is paramount to ensure that the patient’s overall health and well-being are emphasized during sport participation. Youth sport specialization could increase injury risk. Thus, it is critical for athletic trainers to implement communication, education, and prevention programs to assist youth athletes in addressing sport specialization concerns. Future research should investigate the relationship between the parent, coach, and child’s decision on sport specialization. In addition, longitudinal studies should be incorporated to examine sport specialization in baseball and other various sports, for its long-term effects concerning health and safety in youth athletes.


student research, kinesiology


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Short- And Long-Term Effects of Sport Specialization on Youth Baseball Players: A Critically Appraised Topic