This question has been going on for a long time. It will continue to go on and completely covering it is too much for a blog post. It’s more like an entire book worth to do it justice.
However, this article about specializing for youth sports was pretty good. It was nice to see that it got some national exposure.
I doubt that it’s going to have much of an effect. But maybe it will.
One thing, I notice is that a lot of the national soccer organizations limit the time on the pitch that younger players can have. But as the kids move up in ages and in ability, more and more time is required.
The same is true for swimming, football, baseball and volleyball.
I’ve always felt that specializing in one sport is a bad idea. Besides the injury issues (which this article points out), there are the psychological and developmental ones as well.
The best athletes have always been good at a host of sports. Probably because they played a bunch of them when they were kids.
I’m thinking of Freddie Adu, who was an amazing soccer player as a youth, but has had a difficult time taking his game up to the pro level. He’s doing better now, but I wonder if he had more experiences in other sports if it would have given him a better background to be successful at the highest level.
It is a tough decision for parents and athletes to make. There is a lot of pressure coming from all sides. Whatever decision you and your family make, keep the interests of your kids at the foremost.
A lot of the overuse injuries discussed in the article can be dealt with by a complete fitness program. My program shows parents and coaches how to develop complete athletes for any sport, including soccer.
Whether you decide to do every sport in the world, or just specialize in one, it helps to be a complete athlete with strength, balance, speed, agility and endurance. Most coaches don’t know this (they should).
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