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What To Do If Your Teenager Wants To Specialize

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"My 15-year-old has decided to play soccer year-round, despite having a lot of fun and success in basketball and cross country. This is not a matter of coaches exerting pressure, but I am worried about everything I keep reading about the dangers of early specialization. How should I handle this matter with my child?”

PCA Response by Al Adamsen, PCA Trainer-SF Bay Area
Deciding if and when to specialize is a challenge for many youth athletes and their parents. Keeping options open and enjoying multiple sports is appropriate, as is focusing and committing to a particular passion.

Start by asking two fundamental questions:
1. Why does your child like to play sports?
2. Why do you, as parents, like that your child plays sports?

Hopefully the two answers are aligned. Likely they will be rooted in these truths: We play sports to enjoy ourselves and grow. We want to celebrate our abilities, connect with others, and enhance our skills, athletically and otherwise. Therefore, if one sport brings more joy than another, then nurturing that more joyful activity is appropriate.

It’s also worth celebrating your child's ownership of the the decision. That’s big for a 15 year-old. It’s very empowering, and your support will likely elevate the respect and connection you two share. Reinforce with your child the values of self-awareness, decisiveness and commitment.

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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