Unit 13, 47 Grange Rd, Cheltenham, Melbourne, Victoria 3192

Young Athletes and Early Sports Specialization

Request More Information

Request More Information

By providing your number you consent to receive marketing/promotional/notification messages from Inner Athlete. Opt-out anytime by replying STOP. Msg & Data rates may apply.

Young Athletes and Early Sports Specialization

Early sport specialization is defined by year-round intensive training of a singular sport at the exclusion of all other sports to facilitate the training and playing demands of their given sport.

Now don't get me wrong, you want to encourage kids to be playing sports and keeping active to encourage a healthy lifestyle. However, when you become too singularly focused on the one sport, you place yourself in a compromised position where you are more likely to experience overtraining, overuse injuries and a loss of interest in your sport.

  • Up to 54% of injuries in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse
  • Young athletes who are highly specialized are 36% more likely to experience a serious overuse injury compared to those who are not
  • In 2015, 322 athletes were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, of those 322, 87% were multi-sport athletes, while only 13% exclusively specialized in the sport of football

The issue of early specialization has increased tremendously over the past few years, with more and more pressure being placed on young kids to excel and be "professionals" in their sports from such as a young age. With the introduction of youth academies and elite junior programs, kids are now forced to do so much more training than they have ever done before. You see your favourite athletes succeeding and you want to get there tomorrow and think the best way to get there is by training as much as possible.

But many of the best athletes of all time were dual sport athletes, and played numerous sports growing up. Lebron James was all-state in both basketball and football during his high school years. Michael Jordan was able to play both professional baseball and basketball. While Christian Petracca and Scott Pendlebury both had the option to pursue a career in professional basketball or AFL coming out of high school.

So, what does this tell you?

These anecdotal stories as well as a growing amount of evidence suggests that late specialization (15-16 years old) may lead to a greater chance of athletic success. This late specialization allows for children to develop and master key movement patterns from a variety of sports and allows them to discover new talents and skills.

To best protect and nurture your athletes as coaches, parents, and practitioners, it is your role to allow them to develop through other interests and sports. As well as limiting the amount of time spent training specifics and repetitive movements during their skeletal development years, to give your athletes the best chance of remaining injury free and achieving overall athletic success.

For more information, listen to our podcast "Is Early Specialization Key to Become A Successful Pro Athlete".

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS

#youthathletes #youngathletes #athletedevelopment #teenathletes #sportsspecialization #athleticsuccess

Book a Free Consultation