Sport specialization and sport participation opportunities and their association with injury history in female high school volleyball athletes

Phys Ther Sport. 2020 Sep:45:86-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2020.06.005. Epub 2020 Jul 12.


Objective: Determine the association of sport specialization in female volleyball athletes with previous injury history and determine the association of sport specialization with volleyball participation opportunities.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Recruitment occurred from 83 Wisconsin high schools during the 2018 volleyball season.

Participants: Female volleyball athletes (N = 1,588, grades 9-12, age = 15.6 ± 1.1 years).

Main outcomes: Participants completed a pre-season questionnaire soliciting information regarding 1) demographics, 2) sport specialization, 3) sport participation, and 4) sport-related injuries in the previous 12 months. Univariable logistic regression models were used to identify associations with previous injury. Chi-square analyses were used to investigate associations between sport specialization classification and other sport participation opportunities.

Results: Both moderately and highly specialized athletes were more likely to report a previous injury compared to low specialized athletes (moderate OR: 1.84 [1.29-2.62]; p < 0.001 and high OR: 2.30 [1.64-3.24]; p < 0.001). Highly specialized athletes were more likely to report participating in club volleyball, summer tournaments, and training camps in the past 12 months. Participants who reported participating in club volleyball, summer competitions, and training camps last year were more likely to report an injury.

Conclusions: Specialization was associated with injury history and year-round volleyball opportunities among female adolescent volleyball athletes.

Keywords: Adolescent athlete; Injury prevention; Muscle injuries; Pediatric; Youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Specialization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Volleyball / injuries*