Why Your Child Should Not Specialize In One Sport

By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) -If you have a kid who plays sports, you’ve probably gotten the message from their coaches: our sport is the only sport your child should be playing. As in year-round.

We are in an age of ever increasing sports specialization and it’s a trend that can spell trouble for the body and mind, whether it be soccer-soccer-soccer, basketball-basketball-basketball, or baseball-baseball-baseball… you get the idea.

Sure, you might be thinking, if my kid picks and plays one sport, the better the chance he/she will get a college scholarship, or maybe a career as a pro! Well, a few stats on that down below. (Hint: the odds ain’t pretty, so don’t quit your day job.)

kids soccer Why Your Child Should Not Specialize In One Sport

(credit: Thinkstock)

A number of studies have shown that one sport specialization increases the risk of burnout, poor school performance, mood swings, anxiety and depression.

And now comes a major study on the physical risks of pick only one and play only one. It’s in the American Journal of Sports Medicine and shows that a child who plays only one sport (basically year-round) has a 70% higher risk of injury than a kid who plays a variety of sports/activities. And we’re not just taking about the short term dent/dings, sprains, and bumps. Researchers say a higher rate of life-long debilitating effects from injuries suffered at a young age in one sport kids.

kid soccer

(credit: CBS)

It’s believed that playing one activity or sport uses and overuses the same set of muscles, ligaments, and tendons to a degree that causes them to weaken—making them more prone to tear or break. And with that comes damage to bones and joints. Play multiple sports, and there are multiple sets of body parts that do the work, and generally don’t get overtaxed.

But even with multi-sports, here’s a good rule of thumb for kids under age 17: the number of hours per week spent playing and practicing should not exceed a child’s age. For example, age 10= 10 hours per week, no more.

The advice for parents, let your child enjoy a number of activities, let them cross-train, let them play different sports. They, and you, will be happier (and healthier for it).

Now here are those stats on the odds of a boy or girl going on after playing in high school:

High School to College                  High School to Pro

Baseball                              5.6%                                                   0.5%

Basketball                          2.9%                                                   0.003%

Football                              5.8%                                                   0.09%

Soccer                                 5.7%                                                   0.4%

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida

 

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