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Why Early Specialization Is NOT Good For Kids

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PCA National Advisory Board Member Jay Coakley (@SiSCoakley) is Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He has done 40 years of research on connections between sports, culture and society, much of that focused on the play, games and sport participation of young people. His Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies(11th edition) is the world's most widely used sports sociology text.

In this video, Coakley explains why early specialization is not good for kids. He tells us that early specialization is not good for several reasons including:

  • Overuse injury
  • Burnout
  • Restriction of developmental experience

Unfortunately, most parents today do not have a choice in the matter because youth sports programs have become privatized. Coakley describes an ideal world for youth sports, which would be a low cost, accessible program throughout the year so children could have the opportunity to play 3-4 sports in the course of a year. Through that kind of experience children would have the opportunity to develop their skills amongst a wide range of disciplines and will eventually be prepared to specialize in a sport of their choice when they are old enough to make that decision.