Team sports (baseball/softball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, etc.) are "late-specialization" sports. This means that peak performance is best obtained late in the developmental process once the athlete is fully matured. Early specialization in team sports delays and even more likely stalls the attainment of long-term potential.
A young high school athlete in Troy has proven to be an excellent example of why early athletic diversification is the best strategy to obtain sport specific success when it matters the most. You can read about this athlete here.
Before you read I would like to highlight several themes that emerge from the article in support of late specialization:
- Early diversification allows athletes to develop a broad base of athleticism that can eventually be applied to a specific sport. And this diversification creates a solid foundation upon which to achieve peak performance.
- Participating in multiple athletic endeavors early in life will allow you to transition to another sport if an injury forces you to exit another sport.
- Having a robust movement foundation and overall athleticism allows you to modify your style of play to make you more successful when you do chose to specialize. This young athlete learned how to hit left-handed in order to create a competitive on-field advantage.
- Speed is great asset for any athlete, and the development of speed should be emphasized during the developmental years.
- From a social perspective playing multiple sports allows you to meet more people and develop the ability to communicate and develop relationships with folks from diverse cultures and with unique personalities.