Early Specialization in American Sports

We all see it…kids are choosing to focus on a specific sport younger and younger. Training times are long, and more frequent. There no longer is an off-season.

I will agree that soccer is a sport where exposure to it early is helpful. Foot-eye coordination is harder and harder to pick up when you get above a certain age. BUT, I think that playing multiple sports, participating in different clubs or activities is incredibly helpful. What if you have a career ending injury? Or no longer have a desire to play? What do you fall back on if your sport is what defines you?

I had the opportunity to play many sports growing up, and also participate in a bunch of different non-athletic activities. The first time I “specialized” in soccer was when I went to play at Wake Forest, and even then I played intramural basketball, softball, kickball, and dodgeball. I relished the time I had away from soccer doing other things, and whenever I came back to the game I found I loved it even more. Time off, and time doing other things in between seasons can be beneficial developmentally for all players, particularly younger players. John O’Sullivan from the Changing the Game Project has more to say on that through the link below.

John O’sullivan: is it wise to specialize?

baby soccer

How early is too early?

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