There are right times and wrong times to specialize in any one sport or physical activity. Specialize too early, and the athlete may limit their development and success at older ages. Specialize too late, and the athlete may miss a key stage of development.
Should your 7-year old be completely focused only on one sport, such as soccer or basketball? Or is it better for her to participate in a number of sports and choose one to focus on in a few years?
There are right times and wrong times to specialize in any one sport or physical activity. It depends if the sport is a late-specialization or early-specialization sport.
Athletes have better success in late-specialization sports such as basketball, soccer and hockey if they have participated in a range of different sports and activities prior to their teen years. Athletes have greater success in early-specialization sports such as gymnastics and figure skating if they begin to specialize in those sports during their elementary school years.
In most sports, athletes should not specialize until they are between the ages of 12 to 15. Prior to that age, they should participate in a wide range of sports to ensure they become good, well-rounded athletes who have acquired physical literacy.
Learn more about specialization.
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