Sports Specialization Might Influence the Well-being of Girl Soccer Players


Among girl soccer players, there could find an association of sports specialization with significantly worse mood, stress, fatigue, soreness, and sleep quality, even after monitoring for factors such as age and time spent in training. The study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 National Conference & Exhibition, at Chicago's McCormick Place West conference center.

The current study included 49 girl soccer players (age 13–18 years), who were subjected to the pre-season evaluation to determine soccer experience and previous sports participation. The participants were observed for daily training load during the four-month soccer season. They also looked into their sleep duration and analyzed several factors linked to the participant’s perceived well-being every day.

The subjects, who participated in soccer as well as in other sports, were considered as specialized players. There was no difference found among 19 specialized and non-specialized players concerning age, years of experience, or in-season training load. Although both groups were getting the same quantity of sleep (8 hours/night), players in the non-specialized group were found to have a better sleep, mood, stress levels, fatigue and soreness than specialized players.

Drew Watson, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said, “After controlling for age and training load, we found that the athletes who participate in only soccer reported worse ratings of sleep quality and all 4 measures of subjective well-being than those who also participate in other sports throughout the year.”

Earlier research recommended that initial sports specialization might affect, whether athletes would be injured or drop out of the sport, but the underlying causes were unknown, he added.

Although, the present study fails to explain whether sports specialization itself affects youth player’s sleep and well-being, “it does suggest there are differences between single and multi-sport youth athletes that could have an impact on injury risk, performance, or lifelong athletic participation. Further research is needed to determine whether this can help explain differences in injury risk or long-term athletic success,” Watson concluded.