Athlete Academy: Don’t Over Specialize – Why It Hampers Your Child’s Performance
One of the most challenging things I have seen in youth sports and overall health today (in terms of movement) is the over specialization of sports, meaning that a child grows up and from the age of 4 plays nothing but one sport. They play soccer year in and year out and play nothing else… no hockey or baseball, take your pick. They spend their summers going away to multiple camps, for weeks at a time to work on the same discipline. They don’t get exposed to other types of sports and at the end of the day end up, ironically, struggling in that one sport because something is lacking.
Now, we all know that the more practice that gets put into a certain sport, the more likely the person is to be proficient in it. Of course that is the case, and I am not arguing that in order to play hockey at a pro or semi pro level, you will probably have to play year round regardless. However, not being exposed to other movement patterns, and making the body have to do different things and learn different skills, can lead to dysfunction, and in some cases even injury.
Up until recently, this was not as much an issue because kids mitigated that by getting out and doing what kids have done for hundreds of years…PLAY! In today’s age though, kids are significantly less likely to have the same experience and therefore don’t get those elements and movements that they normally would have outside their one chosen sport.
Most successful athletes, especially the most athletic ones, played several sports growing up until picking one to focus entirely in their later teen years. Look at some of the most famous athletes in the world. I would bet money that they were either multisport stars in high school and/or college, or at the very least grew up playing more than one. How many football players have you heard also played college basketball? I feel like I hear it every time they talk about a player. Or how many quarterbacks have you heard got drafted by the MLB as well but ended up going with football? The point is that kids need different movements to succeed. Get them moving different ways!