Should Kids Specialize in One Sport? by Jack Held

Updated: Mar 26


Remember watching movies from the 70’s and 80’s? Didn’t it seem like all the athletes lettered in nearly every sport offered? If you answered yes, that’s probably because it was true. In the past it was not uncommon for athletes to play more than just one sport at the high school level. Many athletes played all the major sports and did not just play one sport all year round. Over the last 15-20 years, however, there has been a shift away from that trend and towards youth sports specialization: playing the same sport three or four seasons out of the year, while neglecting other sports.


There are reasons for this. Some believe it is because of controlling parents wanting their child to succeed. Others believe it is just the child’s wish to play one single sport that they love. For whatever the reason, the question here is “Should they specialize in just one sport?”. Many studies have been conducted regarding this issue. So far, the data shows that youth specialization is actually detrimental to the child. The statistics show that children are more likely to burn out and drop out of sports altogether if they play just one. Children are more likely to enjoy wholistically the concept of sports if they are encouraged to participate in numerous sports. They also get the extra benefit of developing different types of motor movements and coordination that they would not otherwise if they only play one sport.


In summary, evidence has shown that there is little reason for a child to be specializing in one sport so early on. In fact, it proves to be no more beneficial for the child and in some cases forces the kid to quit the sport altogether. What are your thoughts on kids specializing in one sport? Do you want your child to only play one sport?




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