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  • Writer's picturemitzkoh

Early Specialisation

What is Early Specialisation?


Practice of young athletes <12 years old focusing exclusively on a single sport, often to the exclusion of other sports/ activities/ hobbies throughout their developmental years

  • Starting an activity very young

  • Intensive training

  • Emphasis on competition/ outcomes instead of development/ logevity/ enjoyment

  • Year round commitment


Risk of early specialisation

  • Increased risk of injury

  • Psychological stress

  • Burnout



What can be done?

Diversification

  • Sampling differrent sports/ activities in pre-pubertal years

  • Emphasis on fun, physical movement, sportsmanship

  • Improve physcial, cognitive, emotional and psychosocial skills


Specialisation post puberty

  • Max. number of hours/ week not more than age

  • At least 1 off day/ week for rest and recovery

  • Periodisation with off season

  • Include cross training



Conclusion

  • For most sports, there is no evidence that intense trainingn and specialization before puberty are necessary to achieve elite status

  • Risks of early sports specialization include higher rates of injury, increased psychological stress, and quitting sports at a young age

  • Some degree of sports specialization is necessary to develop elite-level skill development. However, such intense training in a single sport to the exclusion of others should be delayed until late adolescence to optimize success while minimizing injury, psychological stress, and burnout

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