Thursday’s Thoughts – Youth Sports

I just finished watching some of the NFL draft. The amount of money that draft picks are going to get is pretty solid stuff, especially for potential players that have not played a minute in a professional game. Gets me to my Thursday Thought! The temptation is huge for a youth player today to be a professional athlete. With the many years of coaching, I have been asked my opinion on a particular subject more and more. Many parents are asking, “is it best to have their child specialize on their sport?” My opinion is just that, an opinion. I usually answer the question with a simple – I would not specialize 100% of my time with just one sport.

Why?

  1. My first thought – look at how many young players that are playing today and the total number of professionals that there are. There are millions that have played that never make it to the highest level. Odds are not in your favor!
  2. Let’s say that said youth player is outstanding compared to his peers today! Maybe he or she could make it to that highest level… Have to stay away from two things I feel that come up with specializing too much. First, burnout! There are way too many young athletes that get completely burned out by all of practice, camps and games. I have seen plenty of promising players just call it quits. The second item, overuse injuries. Specializing really focus’ on the same joints and muscles… I have seen quite a few career ending injuries due to overuse and poor treatments.
  3. I also see a lot of overall boredom with one sport. Just listen sometimes to the reaction to an additional practice… “Practice again! or “Practice is not helping me.” Doing the same thing over and over again. Do you like doing that? Adding in another sport that keeps them in shape or helps them in an area that will strengthen the major focus – will help. It may ignite a passion.

Becoming a professional athlete is difficult work! The amount of dedication, desire and commitment is huge. We have not even gotten to talent.

Should your young athlete specialize? What is the right age to specialize? There are plenty of professional athletes that played multiple sports in high school, but going to college on scholarship – narrows it to that sport alone… Do you want your elementary school athlete to start that early?

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