Youth Fitness–Specialization

Posted: July 25, 2008 in exercise, physical therapy, Sports Medicine
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the many problems with youth sports today is early specialization.  This basically means that kids are pigeon holed into one sport at too early of an age.  The consequences of this are the development of compensatory and faulty movement patterns, missing critical stages of development, increased likely hood of injury, inconsistant performance and an early drop out rate from sports/activity.  While much (needed) emphasis is placed on the underactive/obese children it is important to realize that both groups, the “overactive/specialized” and the obese kids are all headed in the same direction…unactive adulthood.  They are just arriving there from different points.  We already have a problem with a large part of society being sedentary and this problem continues to grow.  The impact on the healthcaresystem, productivity and national security will be significant.  The way we approach training of kids in this country has gotten way out of hand with the desire to win, the allure of scholarships and “big money” fueling the craze.  The focus on youth sports should be to promote and maintain good health for a happy, healthy and terrific life.

Here is a good study to demonstrate the benefits of kids being involved in many activities and developing many different skills.  A study done by Harre in 1982 in the former East German, as cited in Tudor Bompa’s book, “Total Training For Young Champions.” studies a group of young athletes ranging from nine to twelve years old who specialized in one sport and a group who followed a multilateral program (many different activities/sports).  The results are summarized below:


         Quick performance improvement, inconsistency of performance in competition, by age eighteen many          athletes were burned out and quit the sport and they were prone to injury because of forced adaption.


         Slower performance improvements, consistency of performance in competitions, longer athletic life              and fewer injuries.

As a parent take an active roll in your childs activities be a positive role model and your kids biggest supporter (regardless of how they do).  Encourage them to do multiple sports, avoid the pressure or advice of other parents, take responsibility and do what is right your kids.  Dont be afraid to ask questions, its your child (make sure you do this in a constructive and productive mannner) If everyone can do this we can make the needed changes in the way our kids are developing and return the physical culture we have lost and so need to get back to!  Check out the IYCA for more great information and their efforts to revolutionize youth fitness.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!




  1. Len Saunders says:

    What is sad is that this could be the first generation of children whose life expectancy may be lower than their parents. More PE in the schools and more dollars to rec programs is a good start.

  2. chriskolba says:

    The CDC has ranked childhood obesity higher than alcoholism and Aids. They were planning on spending some ungodly amount of money to do a study as to why are kids are getting fatter! They have also stated they don’t see an end in sight!

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