by Louise | July 1st, 2008 | Sports

I hear a lot of people talking about the one sport they love. In the fall, my friend plays for the volleyball school team. Winter, the same friend plays volleyball for a junior Olympics team. Spring, more junior Olympics. Summer, a summer volleyball league. Year-round volleyball. It has become a growing trend for people to specialize in one sport. It should make sense: if you focus on one sport, your skills should increase, you should get better. For those children that hope to grow up to be professional athletes, specialization of one sport at an early age may seem like the only route. Parents might even urge their children to take this path. If the child sticks with one sport and works on it year-round, every year, they will only get better right? Wrong.

Doctors are urging that children be involved in a variety of sports. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that specialization can deny the benefits of varied activity. Furthermore, there’s no proof that, by age 16, someone who started a specific sport at age 4 is any better than someone who started at age 8.

One concern about specialization is overuse. The number of stress fractures from sports has increased over the past years. If a child continually strains the same muscles time and time again, it becomes more likely that an injury will result.

Also, specialization can lead to burn-out. If day after day, a child plays the same sport, the child may lose his or her appeal for the sport. The game might become a chore. By keeping a child involved in a variety of sports, you keep him or her open to other activities and keep the child interested and excited in the game he or she likes the most.

In conclusion, it is great to get your kids involved in sports at an early age, but wait until later years if you really want them to specialize. The benefits do not outweigh the risks.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.