For young athletes and parents of young athletes, it is important to understand the concept of specialization and how it applies to sport development. Specialization is when an athlete “limits participation to a single sport, which they train for and compete in on a year-round basis.”1 Let’s discuss how understanding specialization and related concepts can help young people develop not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Chris Schwarz is the Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Ottawa Senators of the NHL, and has the privilege of working with elite athletes every day. But there is one problem: his players are only hockey players.
We live in a youth sport culture that emphasizes early sport specialization – an increasingly common phenomena. This trend largely stems from the influence of professional athletes, whose careers imply that the earlier you specialize the better chance you have at becoming “elite”.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. While there are a number of negative effects from early sport specialization, here we will focus one specific risk: overuse injury.
Parents are looking for help with youth sport. The world of youth sport they grew up in no longer exists, and so parents can end up confused and overwhelmed with how best to guide their own child through the modern youth sport environment.
Parents are afraid that if their kids don’t progress they will get left behind. So they push for progress, push for development, and push for success. Just to keep up.