In the last decade, we have seen a shift in youth sports where kids start playing only one sport instead of playing multiple sports throughout the year. While many parents and coaches feel that specializing will help a child succeed and be more likely to earn a college scholarship, there seems to be little evidence that it’s beneficial. There are definitely some risks of early sport specialization, though.
In this video, I share four potential risks of early sport specialization:
Studies have shown that children and adolescents who play their primary sport for more than 8 months a year have an increased risk of upper extremity and lower extremity overuse injuries.
Increased risk for all injuries
Studies have also shown that kids who participate in their primary sport for more hours per week than their age have a higher rate of all kinds of injuries. For example, a 13-year-old baseball pitcher should practice and play in games less than 13 hours each week.
Failure to gain benefits from playing multiple sports
There are a number of benefits to playing a variety of sports. Kids can develop physical skills and abilities they would never get from just playing their main sport. Plus, they can learn new ways to interact in a team setting and understand strategies they can take back to their main sport. If they only play one sport, they lose those opportunities.
It is believed that 70% of kids drop out of sports by age 13. Pressure from parents and coaches is thought to be one of the main factors leading to burnout. Often kids who specialize in one sport at an early age are under a lot of pressure to win and have great stats to impress scouts and make travel teams. We don’t want pressure to cause them to drop out of sports and lose all the great benefits kids get from playing sports.
The risks – and lack of benefit – of early sport specialization
4 reasons early sport specialization and intense training might be bad for young kids
Early sport specialization: Tips for parents and coaches