Sport specialization, especially at a young age, is more popular/prevalent today than ever before. Certainly, there are more opportunities for sport specialization — AAU basketball, JO volleyball, club soccer — than existed in past decades. But, opportunity aside, I’m not sure it’s always the kids deciding to focus on a single sport at the expense of other sports and activities. Coaches and parents put a lot of pressure on kids to concentrate on one sport, 24-7-365.
Playing multiple sports and activities helps kids develop cross-functional skills that can improve overall athletic aptitude and performance. Conversely, intense training in a single sport before adolescence can lead to injuries, according to a review in the journal Sports Health. Young athletes who play one sport all year typically experience more stress-related injuries, as a result of repetitive overuse without appropriate rest and recovery time.
Expose your child to other sports and activities, and encourage participation in unstructured activities (pick-up games, for example). Encourage effort — and not only performance — especially when they are young.
If the decision to play a sport, year-round, is the desire of the child (and not just the coach and/or parent), and if the coach builds in regular breaks to allow for adequate rest and recovery… let him or her give it a try.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!