Why The Rush To Youth Sport Specialization? (Part 1)


A young skater on his what to learn on step at a time


There is a current trend to specialize our youth athletes long before necessary.  Parents don’t get caught in the trap of allowing your child to only participate in their best performing sport. Children under 13 or 14 with little exception need not specialize to get a so called edge on the competition. Being well rounded is the best edge a child can get. I will revisit this topic over  and over again as time  goes n because like I thought when I first began TrackMom.com it is more important now than every.

Well intentioned youth sport coaches often follow the lead of adult elite coaches and develop a training program that is tailor made for an adult but not for a growing child. I cannot overstate the value of varied sports activity. If you or the coach are not allowing your child this opportunity, you are prohibiting her to grow as a complete athlete he could be. This is obviously counterproductive and impedes the optimal development of young athletes.

Research and common sense show that very young  children do not posses the attention span to concentrate on one athletic skill for a prolonged period of time. If forced to they will most often develop poor training  habits,”just to get it over and a technical  form you don’t want them to have , and an arsenal full of attitude you won’t like either. The best of the best athletes rarely chose a single sport to focus on in the beginning. They played and experienced many sports.
Diversification is key. We Know as this as doctors ,coaches but there seems to be a complete disconnect out there in youth sports organization land.  There is more than enough time and opportunity to specialize. FUN is the  first priority.  A few years back I talking to former Olympic Gold medalist  and former Alabama Head coach Harvey Glance he began to share with me that he  started  his track experience at the age of 7. He stated that” he loved running and he loved many other sports as well”. He didn’t just run because he was “good” he ran because it was fun. It wasn’t until 15 or 16 he made the decision to focus on track and field. When he made that decision within 4 to 5 more years he won his first of two gold medals in the 100 meters. Did he lose anything from participating in several other sports not at all. A matter of fact he states he was able to see what would possibly bring him the most success based on comparison.


Lots of other activities along the way allowed for a great day of surfing and other water sports during this vacation in Hawaii. they were 12 and 14 in this photo

Give your youth athlete lot’s of positive reinforcement, ask him questions about his feelings and the sports he or she participates in. Remember, it is all-encompassing athletic skill base that leads to proficiency in single sports – not specialization. When “Coach Henry” and would plan for youth meets train Lauren we allayed plan and schedule in some fun. Fun within the workout schedule was so important. The season gets long and tiring for a child(the parent too) A seven year old that would rather at times go play a game  of their  choice. Know your child. Know what he thinks is fun. She if the coach can  develop games that will condition and develop as well as promote fun and enjoyment. In further posts  you will read about Long Term Athletic Development and how it can help shape a true champion and person who can become an active person long after they hang up there  collegiate or professional spikes put away their hockey stick or  stop kicking goals.

People often would say to me that Lauren looks like she is having fun. She looks like an 8 year old. That made and continues to make me very happy .  I believe she will have fun for years to come because that has been out focus through many wins fun and development for something greater  is the focus not the gold medals. They come when she is having fun!

Until Next Time


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