Elite NBA players who participated in multiple sports in high school tended to have fewer injuries and longer careers, on average, than players who played only basketball, notes a study from UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospitals.

The study, published recently in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, analyzes the rate of injury and the length of careers of first round NBA draft picks selected between 2008-2015.

The study included 237 athletes, of whom 36 (15%) were multisport athletes and 201 (85%) were single-sport athletes in high school. The researchers found that multisport athletes played in a greater percentage of total games (78.4% versus 72.8%), but were less likely to sustain a major injury during their career (25% versus 43%). A greater percentage of the multisport athletes were also active in the league at time of the study, indicating increased longevity in the NBA (94% versus 81.1%), explains a media release from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

It suggests that while a minority of professional basketball athletes participated in multiple sports in high school, those who were multisport athletes participated in more games, experienced fewer major injuries and had longer careers than those who participated in a single sport in their teen years.

While these findings can be applied only to elite male basketball players, they suggest that the protective effect of being a multisport athlete in high school may persist for years into an athlete’s professional career, the release continues.

[Source(s): UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Newswise]