Early sport specialization is characterized by a high volume of deliberate practice and a low amount of deliberate play in one sport, and focuses on performance as early as age six or seven.*
Early sport specialization is on the rise in youth sport, and it’s a disturbing trend. Many parents of young kids (i.e. 12 and under) genuinely believe that more is better, that they are giving their child an edge by narrowing in on one sport, or even that it is a matter of competitive survival.
The reality, however, is very different. Studies consistently document the dangers. Dangers to the child’s overall development, danger in terms of injury to growing bodies, and danger from burnout. Unfortunately, these facts are not broadly known and parents are often pushed in the wrong direction. Often the push comes in the form of peer pressure from other sport parents or coaches who are equally uninformed or, worse, from private companies who profit from the hype.
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