Study links sport specialization to daytime tiredness

A study conducted by researchers are the University of Wisconsin suggests that athletes who specialize in a single sport are more likely to experience daytime tiredness.

The findings mean that specialized athletes may have a harder time focusing in the classroom. Dr. David Bell, co-author of the study, said it’s more reasonable for athletes to choose a single sport once they reach high school, but youth athletes should enjoy a variety of experiences and have fun playing different sports.

Numerous studies over the last few years have found that specialization can increase the risk of injury and lead to burnout. The issue continues to be a concern for athletic administrators and coaches, most of whom prefer their athletes to play multiple sports.


In the study, youth athletes were asked if they play or train in a single sport more than 8 months per year, if they could name a primary sport, and if they’ve ever quit a sport to focus on a single sport or only played a single sport before.

If they answered yes to all three questions, they’d be considered highly specialized. Two would be considered moderate. Answering yes to one or zero was considered low. Researchers then compared the participants in different activities, such as face to face conversations, traveling, homework or being in the classroom. Researchers found that those athletes focusing solely on one sport experienced daytime sleepiness much more often compared to others.

Researchers recommended that athletes not play a single sport for more than eight months out of the year. They said it’s also critical to take a day or two off each week and get adequate sleep.

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