Early Specialization vs Multi-Sports

The purpose of our latest blog post is to discuss the benefits a multi-sports approach has over early specialization in one sport for children. Furthermore, the impact early years sports specialization has on injuries, motor development, skill acquisition, psycho-social aspects.

Early Specialization

“Is the intense all year-round training in a specific sport, with the exclusion of other sports from a young age”.

Multi-Sports Approach

“Is the participation in a variety of sports and activities, in order to develop multidimensional physical, social, and psychological skills”

Due to the rising competitiveness in youth sports, the drive for early specialization in a particular sport has risen. This is partly due to the 10,000 hours rule. Which stems from research within chess which concluded that for athletes to be the best, at a particular skill or sport, they need to start early with skill development and practice very specific activities to improve their strengths and reduce their weaknesses. However, this can be counterproductive long term.

Over training and Injury

One of the main worries when specializing in one sport from a young age, is over training. Over training can cause overuse injuries which will hinder a child’s long-term development. The reason behind these injuries is due to the constant repetition of the same movement patterns over and over again. As children are still growing, this places a huge amount of stress on their joints and growing bones. Therefore, a multi-sports approach can reduce the overuse injury possibility by not repeating the same movement patterns constantly.

Burnout Mentally

Early specialization has shown to be not only physically difficult but also mentally straining. Burnout mentally is a common theme among children who specialize early in one sport. Ultimately, this causes drop out from the sport. Moreover, other serious psychological disorders can develop, such as depression. Whereas by using a multi-sports approach, children will not become so emotionally invested within one sport and will keep that fun element within the activities participated in.

Motivation

Sport must be fun for children. This will keep them motivated to participate. Early specialization removes the fun element from sport for kids. Moreover, without the motivation to learn, the child will not develop the required skills through the training provided, no matter how many hours they do. A multi-sports approach provides variety, a more relaxed environment and playful settings which children can enjoy with friends. This will then heighten their intrinsic motivation and desire to learn.

Skill Acquisition

Children who experience a variety of sports and activities from a young age, will develop a range of invaluable fundamental motor skills. These skills are then adaptable within any sport the child decides to play later in life. When specializing too early, a child will be limited in what they learn and develop. In turn, this can also increase injury risk.

Socializing through Sports

Sport is key in developing key social skills, and providing children with a platform to make friends. Specialization from a young age, can negatively impact the social development seen through sports. The pressure placed on these children to succeed can create unnecessary rivalries between children. As well as, fear of failure. Less pressurized environments will allow children to flourish and develop important social skills such as communication, leadership, and discipline.

Conclusion

Encouraging children to participate in multiple sports at an early age is important for their physical, mental and social development. By specializing too early children are more likely to sustain overuse injuries, experience burn out and drop out of sports. Moreover, social skills can be hampered which will impact children later in life.

The multi-sports approach will provide children will a multi-dimensional motor skill set, which can be adapt to any sport. This will mean they can continue to be active for life. The critical age for children to develop these skills is between the ages of 5-11. Hence the work we at Boom Sports do within the community and primary schools in London.

We provide multi-sports holiday camps, sports themed parties and PE teaching in schools. Our ethos is geared towards this multi-dimensional skill set acquisition, which as explained is vital. Contact us to find out all we offer.