Sport Specialization

I am going to change pace on this blog for this entry as  I am sick of athletes and parents who feel the only way to get ahead is to quit all other sports and focus only on one. This is kind of a messy rant that i wanted to get off my chest. I didn’t really feel like proofreading it either.

Girls High School Track and Field is the most played female high school sport In the US, so you think it would have more support than it does. Many athletes and even other coaches treat track as a fitness club and they can come and go as they please. They forget that yes indeed it is a Varsity sport and where I coach it is a very good team.  As a coach, I am struggling with athletes who believe the only way they can make it in their primary sport is to play that sport year around. At the High School I coach at I am trying to buck that trend. I want the two or three sport athlete to make a comeback. I have athletes who play soccer, basketball and volleyball during my season. I have no problem with them playing other sports but last year I started a new rule. The rule was simple that in order to be a varsity athlete for me they have to commit to track and field and chose Varsity Track meets over their AAU Volleyball and Basketball and traveling soccer games and tournaments. This new rule has forced a few kids to make decisions and some have even quit to pursue their one sport greatness. I don’t prohibit them from playing their other sports. I explain it like this. I have my own track club and if you (the athlete) were on it and we had a track meet during your Varsity basketball game (or in most cases sophomore or JV game) what would your varsity coach say if you skipped that game completely or partially to compete in a track meet out of season? Why should you treat Varsity track any differently? I want them to understand why I have these rules and that yes Track is a Varsity Sport.

All of that is just trying to get my kids to treat track and field like a real sport. This doesn’t even account for the numerous studies that show that over use injuries dramatically increase by playing a sport year around. Parents don’t see that rest from a sport is a good thing and allowing your kids to play other sports further advances your child as an athlete. I won’t go into any of my personal stories with parents on my team as I don’t want to burn any bridges. But most of the time it is the parents pressuring the kids to play the sport year around. I will use what I heard in the Anytime Gym at Forest Lake to show how parents push this fallacy. I was lifting at anytime and I over heard two parents talking about softball. Both dads had daughters in 6th grade. One of them was on the A team the other was on the B team. The parent with the Kid on the B team was asking the other Dad what they did to get on the A team. He said year around softball clinics and cages. Quit all other sports and just play softball if you want any hope to play varsity softball. The dad with the girl on the B team was eating this all up. I wanted to interrupt this conversation and tell these guys they are idiots,.There is so much more I can go into, Whether it would be more scholarship opportunities for track than other sports to not having parents live through their kids.  I guess all that I am saying is let kids be kids. Give them off time let them play different sports and get them in the weight room that is probably the best thing they can do to make better athletes Lift and learn to love to Lift.

here are some fun links to read

http://changingthegameproject.com/is-it-wise-to-specialize/ 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-reed/youth-sports-specializati_b_6084732.html

http://www.momsteam.com/early-sport-specialization-frequently-asked-questions-some-benefits-many-drawbacks-10000-hour-rule

http://www.momsteam.com/successful-parenting/early-specialization-in-youth-sports-supported-by-myths-and-competitive-culture-not-facts

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