The Impact Of Youth Sports On Early Specialization Vs. Diversification

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The Impact of Youth Sports: Early Specialization vs. Diversification Eight-year-old Myzel Miller looks like a football phenom as he runs down the field displaying speed and elusiveness that is far superior to his teammates. Unlike the hive mind of most of his peers, Myzel seems to have a greater understanding of the nuances of the sport as he makes cuts and finds holes instead of only running mindlessly with the football down the field. Myzel deftly receives a handoff to the inside from the quarterback, makes one tackler miss, stiff arms the next, and carries the ball 75 yards to the end zone. For many children, middle childhood is their first opportunity to take part in a structured sports program. Parents can play a pivotal role in…show more content…
Early specialization is characterized by year-round training in a single activity, beginning at a young age, apart from other activities with the goal of developing expertise (Ericsson et al., 1993). Ericsson and his colleagues studied pianists and violinists of varying skill levels and discovered that the expert musicians typically began training between ages four and five while the non-experts started training later in life. Moreover, a pattern emerged indicating that the level of performance attained related to the amount of deliberate practice. By age 20 the best performers had spent over 10,000 hours, an intermediate group had put in 8,000 hours, and the least accomplished group only 5,000 hours. In their theory of deliberate practice, Ericsson et al. (1993) suggest that talent plays no role in the development of expertise, rather it is an effortful activity motivated by the goal of improving performance. Typically, deliberate practice requires a high amount of concentration and must be carried out over time. The obligation to significant amounts of deliberate practice in one sport from a young age has been demonstrated as one approach to developing elite athletes (Helsen et al., 1998). Research shows that early specialization in a single sport while eliminating others can have adverse effects. From the intense practices to pressure-filled competitions, young athletes can feel a considerable amount

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