Early Sports Specialization

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WHAT IS EARLY SPORTS SPECIALIZATION? Early Sports Specialization (ESS) has a wide definition. It is characterized by intense year round training in a single sport by student athletes. Children are participating less in free play, opting more often for indoor activities such as watching television and gaming. Although youth activity has been on the decline in recent years, the number of organized youth sports is actually on the rise. Fewer children are playing, but of the ones that are, more are committing to just a single sport. (Health & Medicine Week) According to one study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, sports specialization means that an athlete spends more than 75% of their time training for only one sport. The student athlete…show more content…
These are athletes that consider themselves specialized in one sport in particular. Of these same athletes, more than 65% have played through injuries caused by overuse. Over half of them have tried to hide their injury in order to be able to continue to play. Some student athletes feel pressure from coaches to specialize. (Lucente) COACH’S THOUGHTS ON SPECIALIZATION Coaches are under constant pressure on many fronts. There is an expectation for winning, from administrators, parents, as well as the athletes themselves. In larger school programs, there may be financial benefits for having a winning record. The coach’s job may depend on a winning record. Many college coaches, however, are now speaking against the idea of high school athletes focusing on only one sport in order to be recruited at the college level. They are touting the benefits of playing several sports. Some athletes were considered middle-of-the-pack recruits, until coaching staff recognized their talents and abilities in other sports. These include current and former football coaches Urban Meyer (Ohio State) and Pat Jones (Oklahoma State). Urban Meyer has received a great deal of attention on social media because of the 47 athletes last recruited, 42 of them are multisport athletes. Playing sports other than the one being recruited for helps athletes improve on things…show more content…
Athletes would prefer to play multiple sports. Parents are in the position to regulate the amount of time an athlete spends on his or her sport, especially in the early years. Many college coaches are looking for an overall athlete when recruiting, and look positively on those that play other sports. Doctors agree that playing multiple sports has a positive effect on an athlete by lessening the number of overuse injuries as well as maintaining a positive attitude, leading into an active adult lifestyle. Organizations such as the MHSAA and the NCAA have done research on this topic, and are encouraging athletes, their families and coaches to promote multi-sport

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