In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about why specializing in one particular sport is not necessary or advisable for kids. However, parents often think that their child is the exception to this rule. As a result, they’ll use their child’s extreme talent as a reason to go against all advice and force their children to specialize.
However, no matter how gifted a child is, there really is no reason to focus only on one particular sport during childhood. In fact, the more gifted a child is, that’s all the more reason to NOT specialize.
Why NOT to Specialize
One of the big reasons for this is because kids who are forced to specialize in one particular sport have a very high risk of burn-out. And, if you truly have a rising hockey star on your hands, the last thing you want is early burnout before the child even has a chance to make it to the pros.
Plus, even doctors advise switching up sports in order to reduce the risk of injuries and to help young athletes develop more balanced skills and more balanced bodies to boot.
The Advice Every Parent Should Hear
So, given all this information that we now have about why kids shouldn’t specialize, why do so many parents still force their kids to do so?
Many parents are convinced, despite advice to the contrary, that specialization is the only way for their child to reach his full potential and to have a hope of going professional. However, all the research indicates otherwise. You actually reduce your child’s chances of success by forcing him to specialize.
And, even if you’re not forcing specialization, take care to make sure that you’re not forcing your child to spend too much time on sports. Children face less risk of burn out and overuse injuries if they are allowed to spend time doing things outside of sports, like playing outside and basically just being kids.
Remember, the main reason for a child to play hockey or any sport is for the sheer joy of playing and for the life skills learned along the way. Professionalism should be something you worry about later, if ever, and it’s nothing something you can force through specialization.
Remember this, and you’ll have a much better chance of seeing your child on the professional ice one day.