Soccer News: Organized Sports vs Free Play
TeamSnap Youth Sports Podcasts is a source for today’s most relevant youth sports topics around the world. Host and youth sports parent Emily Cohen, along with a variety of experts, cover everything from concussion prevention to sports parenting advice. Podcasts provide TeamSnap a way to communicate values, beliefs and best practices for soccer and the sports life with users and fans. TeamSnap makes it easy to stay in-the-know with the latest youth sports trend with their podcast.
John O’Sullivan’s podcast interview for the TeamSnap Youth Sports “Talent Identification vs. Talent Development” is a great resource. Should kids specialize in one sport at an early age, or should they play pick up sports for fun?
This is one of the most popular questions in today’s youth sports world — should young kids focus on playing just one sport and theoretically improve faster or should they be a generalist — playing multiple sports? Basically, how young should kids become specialists in soccer, giving up other sports to improve their technique in the beautiful game or should they play pick up sports for fun? And does early specialization even work? Is this all driven by the business of soccer and forgetting about the joy of childhood? It is just a utopian idea to play lots of sports?
John O’Sullivan, speaker, writer, former soccer player and founder of Changing the Game Project, gives us his perspective on Talent Identification vs Talent Development in a fun and lively podcast.
Sports in America has changed. The days of kids playing various sports just for fun is almost non existent. Club sports are dominating like never before and require a full-time commitment. So what does sports science show us on how to expose our kids to sports?
There are Three Paths to Mastery in Sport:
Early Specialization – Kids join one organized sport at an early age and focus on that sport with a long term goal.
Early Diversification – Up until the age of 12, kids are sampling a variety of sports.
Early Engagement – Kids just play pick-up sports (baseball in the streets of New York, pond hockey in Minnesota, etc.). Kids develop their athleticism and skills from just playing for fun and then become found.
Early Specialization has become the vast norm in America. Although not intentional, parents are hurting their kids by limiting them to one sport. Kids that start one sport at a young age do better initially and in the short term, however sports science shows that in the long term they get injured at a much higher rate and not only burn out more, but quit all physical activity all together.
Club sports have become a business. Although they may have the best intentions and great coaching staff, they have to keep the business running. To keep the business running clubs have to offer year long programs (winter, spring, summer). As schools and organizations cut free sports programs due to budgets, families are turning to these clubs. Once involved and parents see how much of a commitment it is including financially and they are forced to decide on just one sport.
Parents don’t know what to do about it so they follow the path of everyone else and just focus on one sport so that their child doesn’t “lose their spot” or fall behind developmentally.
What needs to Change?
The bottom line is let kids be kids – Do we really need to have endless programs all year long?
Parents – Need to take a stand. So many families miss family events because of the fear of losing playing time on the team. No game or sport commitment is more important then spending time with family.
Listen to the full podcast with Emily and John online.