Allow Kids to Be Kids- Don’t Specialize in One Sport



Kids need time to be kids. I could probably stop writing there and you would get the point but this is my blog and I am going to expound on that issue. It is summer time and most kids are involved in baseball, soccer or softball. They join a team or two and are hoping to have fun playing a game.

Long ago, the days of a sport having a season where the athletes were encouraged to play one sport per season. Not only are the parents pushing against that idea but so are the youth coaches that hold the kids ransom for not attending their practices at times in the off-season. It has gotten into a ridiculous thing.

But many parents are specializing their kids into one sport and hoping to make them a star to garner the large money contracts that are floating around. What is wrong with specializing?

According to this article:

Nearly a third of youth athletes in a three-year longitudinal study led by Neeru Jayanthi, director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, were highly specialized—they had quit multiple sports in order to focus on one for more than eight months a year—and another third weren’t far behind. Even controlling for age and the total number of weekly hours in sports, kids in the study who were highly specialized had a 36 percent increased risk of suffering a serious overuse injury. Dr. Jayanthi saw kids with stress fractures in their backs, arms or legs; damage to elbow ligaments; and cracks in the cartilage in their joints.

We now have “select” teams that play of practice year round and now the athlete doesn’t have the time to play a second sport. Why play more than one sport?

First, the athlete will become more well-rounded. According to a study by the Pittsburgh Medical Center, specializing before the age of 14 can have detrimental effects on the child. One sport athletes miss out on activities that work other muscle groups and are more likely to get injured.

Kids in the 5-13 age group do not have fully developed muscles and the chances of injury are higher. Burnout is a possibility. Athletes are emotional and physically exhausted with one sport and begin to lose interest. Be sure to give down time and allow them all the fun a kid their age deserves.

I love bottomlines…..

The bottomline is there is no benefit to specializing in one sport and by making them stick with one sport you are likely to find they will have greater chances for injury and burnout.

Encourage your kids to try different things and activities. It is good for them.

Tomorrow’s Blog- The Internet May Be Coming to an End

The opinions stated in this blog are those entirely of Tom Knuppel.