Sports specialization, or focused participation in a single sport, is associated with an increased rate of overuse injury and burnout. Medical associations and sport organizations have published recommendations for sport specialization aimed to reduce the negative consequences. Healthcare providers (HCPs) are often identified as individuals who can educate athletes and parents about these important recommendations.


This study aimed to compare knowledge, perceptions, awareness, confidence, and use of sports specialization recommendations between HCPs who work with pediatric athletes.




Online web-based survey developed to assess HCP knowledge, perceptions, awareness of, confidence in, and clinical use of sports specialization recommendations.

Patients or Other Participants

Participants were recruited from the research survey services of four professional organizations.

Main Outcome Measures

Dependent variables included responses for awareness, perception, confidence, use, and barriers sections of the survey. Data was analyzed with descriptive statistics; comparisons between HCPs were made through Chi-squared and Kruskal-Wallis tests.


The survey was completed by 770 HCPs (completion rate=95.1%). Respondents lacked awareness specific to recommendations surrounding maximum number of sport participation months per year (39.5%), maximum hours per week (40.7%), and maximum number of teams on which youth athletes should participate concurrently (43.9%). Physicians were the most aware of medical organization recommendations generally (48–68.8%) and confident in their knowledge (41.5–75.1%). All HCPs were less aware and confident of sport organization recommendations, with no differences between HCPs. Physicians did not perceive many barriers to the use of recommendations whereas ATs felt patient (39.9%) and parent (45.3%) behavior was the greatest barrier to usage.


Awareness, perceptions, and use of sport specialization recommendations varied by discipline, but most believed they are associated with decreased risk of injury. Future research should focus on improved education and implementation of recommendations across all roles.

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