This article is all about Early Sport Specialization VS. Sport Differentiation.
Should your athlete play multiple sports, or specialize in one sport?
I believe it all starts with WHY.
In this article my goal is to share with you the facts, the science, and how we use this information at PFP to help athlete’s develop optimally.
First, we start with Why.
Why is your kid only playing one sport? Why would you want them to? Why would they want to?
#1 Is it to play professional sports?
Here are the statistics on that from a study done at the University to Austin at Texas.
My sole reason for including this chart is to be informative. I believe that any athlete can achieve more than they can even imagine, and that more athlete’s need to be inspired to believe in themselves and dream BIGGER.
But it important to note that it is highly unlikely your athlete will play if they have even a shadow of a doubt that this is what they want. I can tell an athlete who wants it bad, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the professional stage. It is about 1 in 1000 that have this W.I.T. attitude (whatever it takes). For these athletes, even if they never make it, the journey and pursuit is going to help them grow tremendously in their character and work ethic.
But all that said, they can still pursue professional sports appropriately while playing multiple sports. In fact, they will likely be MORE successful based on statistics.
There are a lot of factors that come into play, luck, timing, and who you know DEFINITELY plays a part in this. Ask any athlete who has made it or come close.
You can read the fully article here→ http://www.huntleywriters.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Competitive-Youth-Sports.pdf
So if not professional sports, than why?
#2 Are they specializing because they do not like other sports? If so, you need to ask again, WHY?
Is it because they are not good at other sports?
If so, what is the lesson they are being taught by us allowing them to give in to their fear?
When you are not good at something, give up?
#3 They just don’t like other sports and have no interest
This is fine, but again, Why?
Figure out the answer to that question. There may be an underlying issue here of fear.
Those are pretty much the 3 main reasons I hear as to why a kid specializes in one sport year round.
To become amazing at that sport (I am assuming so that they can play at the next level)
Because they are not good at other sports
They just don’t like other sports and have no interest.
The point is, multiple sports develops multiple bio-motor skills in young athletes. Good for athleticism, coordination, rhythm, etc.
Multiple sports means interactions with multiple different teammates.
Multiple sports means they are subjected to multiple coaches.
Multiple sports means they are subjected to multiple different types of movements, thereby decreasing likelihood of injury.
Multiple sports means less chance of burnout. Statistics show that greater than 70% of athletes who specialize will quit their sport by age 16.
I will openly admit I want the Eagles to win the Super Bowl this year (pretty passionately)...however here is a list of the player’s from the 2017 Championship New England Patriots Team.
It shows the athlete’s who played multi-sports in high school. The PAI score is a calculation for athleticism- how athletic that athlete was rated overall. It is closing food for thought.
To close, I want to continue to encourage you to ask the question, WHY?
What role do I want sports to play in my child’s life? What is the end goal I have in mind? Sports play SUCH a massive part of kid’s lives nowadays. So much that they are often defined as an athlete, and by what sports they play.
Pushing or encouraging our athletes to specialize in one sport puts the emphasis on the outcome of “elitism” rather than the outcome of growth and development. Do not fear that they will miss out or be left behind if they do not specialize- that is a false notion that could not be further from reality. It has been proven wrong many times over.
At PFP, we believe that sports are a Means to a “Never-End”. Sports can offer a perpetual, lifelong benefit to your kid when they are used the way they were meant to be used.
If we emphasize the journey and not the destination, more athlete’s will be happier and more successful not only in their sports, but in every area of their life.
Dedicated to your success,
P.S. Performance training is a form of sport. We have some athlete’s at PFP that play one sport, but they also do performance training with us. They do so to develop multiple skills, be subjected to multiple movements to decrease injury, have multiple coaches who care, and obviously to get ridiculously strong and powerful for their sport. If we can help your athlete, just send us an email.