Early sports specialization is becoming a big issue today. We are seeing it become more and more normalized for kids to be specializing at 5, 6, and 7 years old. I recently did a search for soccer and t-ball seasons in the Phoenix area and was surprised to find there really isn't one. Kids are playing the same sport year-round.
After digging around a little more I ran into countless articles talking about the same thing. Kids are specializing early, and it's not a good thing. Kids are getting burnt out at 13 and injured earlier than they ever have.
On the flipside, research has shown that kids who play multiple sports through childhood will stay active longer and are more likely to find success later in competitive sports.
See this excerpt from PMC National Institute of Health:
" For most sports, there is no evidence that intense training and specialization before puberty are necessary to achieve elite status. Risks of early sports specialization include higher rates of injury, increased psychological stress, and quitting sports at a young age."
Visit Dr. David Geier's site for some great articles Or this article on the number of TEENAGERS receiving Tommy John Surgery due to early specialization.
I have had the unique opportunity of working with thousands of kids a year, teaching a unique program that introduces a new sport each week. I have seen firsthand the benefits of a multi-sport program.
Multi-Sport classes provide an amazing foundation for a lifetime of active living. Kids are kept moving and engaged, learning a new skill from a different sport each class. They learn 8 sports – soccer, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, volleyball, golf and tennis with one registration.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED
Don't set out with the mind set to train elite athletes. What you want to do is give kids the tools necessary to go out and play with confidence and play for fun. If your child enjoys playing sports, their likelihood to stick with it will only go up. We want to make sure kids feel comfortable joining a basketball game happening at the end of the street. Or have the ability to play soccer or baseball at recess and not sit out because they are worried about being embarrassed.
We find that most kids who get stuck in a sedentary lifestyle were never given the tools to play with confidence.
HOW CAN THIS BE ACCOMPLISHED?
As much as we as parents would love to be the ones to introduce all these sports to our kids, we often don't have the time, or ability. I do this for a living but still struggle getting my own kid interested in to how to properly throw a ball. But there is hope! There are many multi-sport programs out there to choose from. Some better than others. My daughter attends one and she would much rather listen to Coach Stephen, than listen to me!
Multi-Sport classes develop all the fundamental movements needed to succeed no matter what they are playing. At the end of a session your child can tell you what sport they like best. (And you didn't spend a fortune sending them to 8 different programs!) And let's be honest, they usually say their favorite sport is.... MULTI-SPORT!
For more details on multi-sport programs in your area, click here.
Ryan is the Program Director at Sportball AZ