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The Pros and (Mostly) Cons of Specialization in Sports at a young age!

This weekend I was reading up on some pros and cons of sports specializations and saw this fantastic article on MedScape.  MedScape is a fairly well balanced, well written, medically sound website (unlike some information on the web).  You usually need to log in to look at the content, but an account is free.  The information presented on the website is not always easy to understand, but many of the articles are written towards healthcare professionals.  This article was particularly well rounded and discusses the points that we often are associated with…  specialization in sports at a young age.

Direct Link:

Taken directly from the article:

Medscape: For young kids who are just entering sports, as well as their families, what are the key messages that they should hear from the pediatric care provider?

Dr Brenner: We definitely want to encourage them to have their kids participate in sports and physical activity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be organized sports. We often forget about deliberate play. Deliberate play means that it is voluntary, informal interaction in sports. It is participation for the main purpose of enjoyment. It’s what we used to do when I was younger; we would go out and play, whether it was basketball or pickup football—just a bunch of kids without adult involvement. We made up our own rules and our own teams. We played for fun. We don’t see that as much anymore.

 We recommend that kids do more deliberate play, but also just that they participate in other physical activities, such as paddle-boarding, kayaking, yoga, or Pilates. We should emphasize that diversifying and playing multiple sports is actually beneficial, mentally and physically. Doing this uses different muscles and different bones, and it allows kids to explore. Furthermore, making sure that kids take some time off from one particular sport is very important both physically and mentally.

Last, we should try to find out the goals of the young athlete. That’s key. It must be the goals of the young athlete, not the goals of the parent or the coach. This should be about the young person.

Give the article a look when you have time!  If you have a student athlete struggling with an injury, give us a call!