Early sport specialization is characterized by a high volume of deliberate practice and a low amount of deliberate play in one sport, and focuses on performance as early as age six or seven.*
Early sport specialization is on the rise in youth sport, and it’s a disturbing trend. Many parents of young kids (i.e. 12 and under) genuinely believe that more is better, that they are giving their child an edge by narrowing in on one sport, or even that it is a matter of competitive survival.
The reality, however, is very different. Studies consistently document the dangers. Dangers to the child’s overall development, danger in terms of injury to growing bodies, and danger from burnout. Unfortunately, these facts are not broadly known and parents are often pushed in the wrong direction. Often the push comes in the form of peer pressure from other sport parents or coaches who are equally uninformed or, worse, from private companies who profit from the hype.
Enter Get More From Sport, an education campaign developed by Hockey Nova Scotia and Soccer Nova Scotia, with support from Sport Nova Scotia, to promote multi-sport play. The goal of the campaign is for every parent of an athlete aged 12 or under to visit this site, as you now have. See the evidence and read the facts. Take the test. Hear from sporting greats. See the movement. From there, parents will have the information to make the best decisions for their growing athletes. Hopefully, the grown-ups will worry less about the score, or the level, or “getting ahead,” and simply foster a love of sport that keeps children active for life.
*Dr. Jean Cote. ISSP Position Stand: To Sample or to Specialize? Seven Postulates about Youth Sport Activities that Lead to Continued Participation and Elite Performance. Queen’s University, 2009.