Parents ask me this all the time because they fear their kid will be left behind if they are not striving and pushing all the time. Parents sometimes think that kids need to specialize and be the best at such a young age. When faced with this question, my response is always: “What other spots does your child play, other than golf?” Research has shown that kids should spend 80% of their time diversifying in other sports, other than the one they want to progress in. This in fact challenges kids to develop different skills and balance points that translate to helping their specific sport. One of the keys to effective early child development is Play; see this blog post .
Often my recommendation for parents who ask this question is to get their child to play more sports. According Sport Canada, early child development in sport is much more focussed on play. If play is the basis for kids to develop, why would we be asking them to workout in a traditional sense? We need to be careful with how much we try to push the working out type of exercise on kids. They are still in a crucial developing stage; their bodies and minds cannot always comprehend when to give up and stop pushing. This in turn could cause some issues in the way of physical development.
So when is it okay for kids to transition to sport specific workouts and when should they focus on just one sport?
This is another VERY popular question I get asked all the time.
Sport specialization should not happen before the age of 12/13.
Kids are 75% less likely to have a sport specific injury if the follow this age rule.
Kids who do not specialize before this age find they have:
Longevity in their sport
Once kids are high school age, they should be through their development stage and therefore can slowly start to introduce sport specific workouts into their schedule.
There may be other coaches who do not agree with me on this, but I do not ever want to see my students pushing themselves before they should be.