Friday, December 6, 2013

Don't Let Your Kids Specialize Young

Recently, my oldest daughter(Who is 7) was approached to play on a "Travel" softball team this Spring.  They started practice last week.  I know, Crazy.  It's 27 degrees and snowing today.  After several conversations, We declined.  I told them we were not going to put her in that situation.  I was a High School Baseball and Football Coach for 15 years.  I saw all ages of kids specializing too early.  And by the time they got into high school they didn't want to play anymore.  Most of my experiences was with baseball.  Kids playing 50, 60, even 70+ games a Spring and Summer as young as 7 and 8 years old.  No wonder they are burned out. I strongly believe that young kids need to play a variety of sports and participate in a variety of activities instead of specializing in one.

At MVP Performance Training, we've developed our Kids Fit program and Youth Sport Performance Program with a Long Term Development Model(LTDM) in mind.   Over the last several years I have become involved with one of the best organizations in the World.  The International Youth Conditioning Association(IYCA) is the premier international authority with respect to Youth Fitness & Youth Sports Performance Training.  This is where the LTDM essentially derived from.

A couple of years ago, 2 articles, Early Sport Specializing Part 1 & Early Sport Specializing Part 2  put out by the IYCA documented a study which will publish in an issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports supporting the LTDM.  "The study’s findings are relatively convincing.  The elite group tended to devote far less time at earlier ages in sport-specific training."  And it "supports the notion that the best outcomes over the span of a career were associated with the late specialization model."

I love competitive sports and athletics, but kids don't need to specialize in one thing.  And definitely at a young age.  They need to run, jump, skip, climb, roll and throw things.  They need to be exposed to all sorts of stimuli, sports, martial arts, dance, arts and music.  The more they are exposed to, the better their skills will be.

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