It seems that children are being forced to specialize in one sport at a younger and younger age. There are various travel teams and summer leagues that you, as a parent, might feel the pressure for your child to join, because this will give them a leg up on the competition. It will get them seen by the right recruiters and your child will be given a scholarship for college.
Well… not necessarily.
Children who specialize in one sport are 70-93% more likely to be injured than those who participate in multiple sports. They are also more likely to burnout from stress and are often the first ones to quit. Most college athletes actually come from a multi-sport background.
So when should a child specialize and how much time should be spent in a single sport? Here’s what the research says:
- Before 12 years old – 80% of time should be spent in different sports or deliberate/free play
- Between 13 to 15 years old – 50% of time should be spent in a single sport and the other 50% of time in different sports or deliberate/free play.
- 16 years old and up – 20% of the time should be spent in different sports or deliberate/free play.
Get more information about sport specialization here