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Should Your Kids Specialize in One Sport?

It’s exciting to watch your kid become an athletic star. But before you commit your child to intense training in his or her best sport, try putting multiple sports into play.

Here’s Why

Sports specialization means your child trains for more than eight months per year in a single sport. Doing this before the teen years comes with a greater risk for burnout and injury.

A lack of variety early on may hinder your child’s development of neuromuscular skills that help prevent injury. Specializing in one sport also means your child will be using the same body parts over and over again, without needed rest.

Encourage your young child to explore multiple sports while he or she is still growing physically, mentally, and socially. Doing so will make it more likely that your child will be successful in one sport later on, because the early variety will have taught many fundamental physical movement skills that can transfer nicely into one specialized sport.
At age 15 or 16, your child has the best chance to excel in a specialized sport. Long-term practice in one sport at this age helps create a positive framework for mastering movement skills, such as agility, balance, coordination, and speed. Plus, your teen athlete can better understand the benefits of intense focus on only one sport. He or she also has a stronger ability, at this age, to make independent decisions about investing in one sport. And sports specialization may allow for faster skill development to help gain a competitive edge before college.

Be Safe at Any Sport

No matter how many sports your child plays, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Make sure your child has a diet that meets his or her training needs. It should include the right amount of calories and nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin D.

  • Give your child at least three months off from a specialized sport every year, in increments of one month, to allow for physical and mental recovery.

  • Ensure that your child has at least one to two days off per week from any given sport. This reduces the chance for injury.

Get More Safety Tips

Find sports safety and injury prevention tips here.

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