KC Parent: Sports Specialization, Is It a Good Idea?
By Christa Melnyk Hines
Although sports can provide a multitude of emotional and physical benefits for kids, specializing in a single sport at too early an age can pose risks. How do you know when—or if— your children should specialize in a sport they love?
What is sports specialization? Brian Harvey, D.O., Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center, says that sports specialization is defined as playing and competing in one single sport exclusively for more than eight months out of the year.
An overuse injury occurs as a result of repetitive motion and impact on one area of the body.
“Overuse injuries are those injuries that cause an athlete to lose more than a month of their sport,” Harvey says. “Those are the biggest ones that we see in the developing athletes that do sports specialization.”
Avoid burnout. Participating in different sports throughout the year is easier on developing bodies, and kids are less likely to get bored or even anxious or depressed.
“Athletes wanting to perform at their best, but not being able to, whether it’s due to injury or their fear of disappointing a coach or a parent or even themselves, plus that chronic daily physical demand, can lead to higher rates of burnout and quitting their sport,” Harvey says.
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Learn more about the Sports Medicine Center at Children's Mercy