May 6, 2014   //   by wcsadmin   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Here is Scott Lancaster’s take on what developing athletes should do:

Many sports programs and coaches at the youth elite level (soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, baseball, basketball) strongly recommend that children specialize and play one sport year-round.  

Don’t succumb to the pressure!  Doing so is in direct opposition to the Whole Child Sports philosophy of developing the whole athlete.

Here’s why: it’s unhealthy and risky for your kid. Specialization often results in burnout and/or injury due to repetitive stress on and overuse of the same muscle groups. Repetition may be the pathway to excellence. But little bodies need frequent breaks and varied movement.

Even as your kids get older, bigger and stronger, and can be challenged more specialization is far from ideal.

And yet… unfortunately… many young athletes play one sport year-round due to  pressure from coaches/programs who convince parents that their child will fall behind the competition, developmentally, if they don’t dedicate all their time to their top sport/team.

Folks at the highest level of one sport—Division One Collegiate Lacross—have spoken out against specialization.  In an article published by USA Lacrosse  top level collegiate coaches explain how they prefer to recruit a multiple sport athlete.

What’s more—as a professional performance coach—Scott Lancaster can confirm, with decades of first hand experience, that multiple-sport athletes possess more and better overall movement skills when compared with single-sport athletes.  Single-sport athletes, for the most part, also have difficulty improving their conditioning and skill development at the accelerated rate that their peers who participate in multiple sports do.  When Scott works to improve an athlete’s speed techniques and therefore their times he finds it a lot easier to do so when they are multiple sport athletes.

Take, for example, an athlete who plays both basketball and lacrosse.  She will have a much easily time grasping and executing the proper technique for lateral and overall foot speed skills than an athlete who just plays lacrosse.

The Bottom Line: Playing multiple sports per season is a principal tenant of a balanced Whole Youth Sports Experience.

Tenet Number 4: Play different sports during different seasons.  

Avoid specialization at an early age, or at any age for that matter; it is problematic both physically and mentally.  Kids need a variety of athletic experiences to develop better motor skills and limit burnout.  Playing different sports also helps prevent wear-and-tear injuries (seen surprisingly frequently nowadays in children as young as nine or ten) and, most into adolescence and beyond.  Forcing kids to develop one sport at the expense of others can turn training into a grind and playing into a perpetual performance review, rather than what it should be: fun and invigorating.


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