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Early Sport Specialization

Early sports specialization is a hot topic in today's health/fitness world. Have you ever wondered what age your kid should start playing sports? When should my kid focus on one sport? These are the questions that our Made 2 Move team sought out to answer. We hope you enjoy what we found!

15 years old. This was the age Micheal Jordan tried out for his high school basketball team and did not make it. At that same age, the famed Chelsea soccer player Didier Drogba, seriously picked up the sport of soccer. 15 years old was also the age that NBA star Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon was when he dialed into the sport of basketball. None of these athletes started playing their sports as toddlers and yet, all of them still went on to play professionally. What do the early athletic backgrounds of these sports legends tell us? Their stories show us that it is possible, and even perhaps optimal in regards to injury and burnout, to avoid early sports specialization. Rather, kids may reap greater athletic benefits if they spend those early years experimenting in multiple sports.

What is Early Sports Specialization?

Early Sports Specialization can be defined as “ intense, year-round training in a single sport with the exclusion of other sports'' (Jayanthi et. al 2013). Early sports specialization typically begins in early elementary aged children with a focus on intense training in one sport, but it is important to consider this definition as a sort of continuum with various training volumes and beginning ages amongst youth athletes.