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David Epstein: The Pitfalls Of Early Specialization

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Listen in as Positive Coaching Alliance goes 1-on-1 in interviews with top pro and college players, coaches, executives and other major sports figures who provide tips, tools, information and inspiration for youth and high school sports coaches, parents and student-athletes.

This 1-on-1 interview features David Epstein (@DavidEpstein), an investigative reporter at ProPublica and the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, published in 2013. He was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated.

Jim Thompson (@JimThompson18), PCA Founder, talks to Epstein about the most effective skill and life development pathways, losing out on life lessons due to early specialization, how joy and effort impact performance, the importance of implicit learning from a coach, and how early specialization and over-training backfire as kids get older.

Epstein talks about how some of the world's greatest athletes did not start playing until their teenage years, such as recent World Cup Champion German soccer players, Kansas City Royals Star Lorenzo Cain, and former NBA great Steve Nash. While the sports media doesn't talk about this much, Epstein urges a discussion on the way top athletes avoided specializing and therefore didn't burnout. Playing multiple sports as a youth athlete is better for long-term growth and allows kids to have fun, worry less about mistakes, and bring more effort to the table to elevate their performance.

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